The Writing On The Wall by Marilyn Howard

Kirkus Review
May 12, 2022

Howard tells her story of creating and managing a successful startup in Manhattan
in this debut memoir.

The author grew up in Queens, New York, in the 1950s, at a time when, she asserts, it
was commonly expected that a woman would simply get married in order to pay the bills.
However, she came from a long line of innovators and strong women, and Howard
explains in confident, contemplative prose how, from an early age, she bucked societal
convention. As an adult, she began her own business connecting freelance graphic
artists to clients. The memoir focuses mostly on her family history in the beginning—
perhaps a little too far back, as it describes her memory of being born. However, it does an
able job of weaving together her personal life and business experiences to explain how she
crafted a career with little mentorship. After receiving a degree in graphic arts at Syracuse
University and working two years at Grey Advertising, during which she became
their first female art director, Howard traveled cross-country with friends before
settling back in New York as a freelance graphic artist in 1967.
 Out of this was born the idea for her agency, Creative Freelancers, which started as a small,
classified advertisement in the New York Times and, she says, became the first such agency
to go online in 1997. Over the course of the book, Howard offers plenty of advice on such
topics as transferable skills and dealing with such setbacks as a business partner’s leaving
and joining the competition. These tips sometimes fade into the background against so much
detail about the author’s family life, but the work does effectively interrogate the difficulties
she had in trying to “have it all”: “Mixing motherhood with a career or entrepreneurship
requires a very reliable support system along with a good business plan,
skill training, adequate start-up customers or investment capital, focus on priorities—and luck.”

An often engaging account of an eventful life, along with thoughtful meditations on
being a female entrepreneur.

E-book and print:    Amazon  •  • IngramSpark 

 First chapter and TOC free to read online.

Bookstore1, Sarasota, FL  •   Island Bookshop, Venice, FL


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