Finding your ‘Klondike’

“Questions are very important, and I’ll tell you why,” began Robert Colombo, as he spoke at Wilfrid Laurier University last Thursday evening.

Speaking at the Paul Martin Centre, Colombo, a distinguished Canadian author and editor, offered his advice to students about the world of publishing.

By retracing his life all the way to when he was child in Kitchener-Waterloo, Colombo explained the many pinnacles of his career, including being able to study under Marshall McLuhan to writing his own poetry and anthologies. To Colombo though, in order to get somewhere, specializing in a particular topic is key.

To find this, as Colombo introduced the talk, was to ask questions.
“Try and develop your own Klondike, something you do and that nobody else does,” explained Colombo.

However, even though he has enjoyed his career, Colombo did warn that publishing doesn’t pay extremely well.

“I enjoyed doing what I was doing, but there was a future in editing and I saw no editing in my future,” he added, noting that it was hard to support a family in that field. “I felt that I would need to scale down the editing and begin to publish my own books.”

His work as a poet didn’t fare much better. “No money in that, that’s why it’s called free verse,” he joked.

Though he brought attention to the financial aspect of publishing and writing, Colombo ultimately encouraged the audience to follow their own passion. “If a man or woman have a passion, they should share it with other people,” he continued.

In addition to his advice about finding a specialization, Colombo offered other pieces of advice such as reading multiple hours a day and learning how to gauge an audience, whether that be in person, on print or on the Internet.

As digitized forms of media become more popular than print, Colombo sees it as a double-bind. “People will have more facts at their fingerprints; you used to have to go through encyclopedias,” he told The Cord.

However, the biggest issue he foresees with social media and the Internet is the lack of individuality and self-editing in future generations.

He added that is was very “discouraging” to see the lack of conduct in online forums where some users take the liberty to post obscenities.

To conclude his talk, Colombo offered two final pieces of heartfelt advice: to do at least one weird thing a week and to find a suitable partner that will support you through your career.

“Believe me, it has worked for me and it works for you,” he said.

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