Monday, February 07, 2011

Mogwais in Publishing

You remember what happens to a mogwai when it gets wet, right? Can anyone forget the bubbles of fur shooting out poor Gizmo's back? Or the dozens of giggling furball baby mogwai?

That's what happens to a normal person's to-do list when they step into editorial work. And that's not necessarily bad--I mean, who wouldn't want lots and lots of cute giggling furballs to snuggle and play with? It's all a matter of mindset.

Jaym Gates brought this idea up on Facebook: once you put on an editorial hat, the days of tidily checking tasks off a to-do list is out the door. There's no done in a magazine, not as long as the magazine is still operational. Like dishes and laundry, the tasks replenish themselves almost as soon as you wrap them up. That's because the quest for great literature is never over. Every time you find a great story, deep down, you're hoping there's another one, even better, just waiting to be discovered.

Being busy is part and parcel of the game. I think some editorial folks take an obscene joy in their over-worked, stressed-out attitude. But that's not any more help than pretending the work will do itself. I might have just started in this business, but it seems obvious that plugging along bit by bit is the only way not to burn myself out or feel resentful.

As a former serial procrastinator, this is a new lifestyle for me. In college, I lived for deadlines. Plowing through a slug of work at the last moment was my method operandi. But getting old changed me. Or maybe it's just doing work I actually like. But at any rate, I'm not scared of the multiplying duties in my inbox.

I just have to remember not to feed 'em after midnight.

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