Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Slice of Life, #24

            Working temporarily in an office where you worked for a long time but haven’t been in regularly for a while is interesting: it helps me understand why I liked the job so much, yet am very glad I no longer have to go there every day, week after week.
            The job is managing editor at a weekly magazine. Half the magazine is a set list of stories that go through the same process every week. The other half consists of a changing variety of news and features. Different editors are involved, different writers; some are good with deadlines, some less so. Someone always has a personal problem that has to be accommodated because we are human beings, not cogs – and this place appreciates our humanity and doesn’t try to turn us into machines. But the machinery of the weekly deadline is always there, and the printer needs our copy on time because he has his own schedules and other jobs to accommodate.
I love making it all work. I love deciding what the other copy editor should stop doing so he can work on another story that has a slightly higher priority. I love talking out with an editor whether a bunch of sidebars should be in one file so clumped at the end of the main story, or scattered throughout the main story so each being in its own file. I love catching writers' mistakes and saving them from themselves. I love working with language and making the stories be the the best they can be. Most of all, I love the camaraderie of this group of people, all fun to talk to, whether about work or life outside, movies, books, politics, where to eat lunch in the neighborhood.
            I hate having to deal with a software system that seems designed for cogs, not people. (Would I hate it less if it weren’t from a German company?) I hate it when the system won’t let me highlight a word, so I have to close the story, wait a couple of minutes, then open up again. I hate forgetting the new ways of doing things that my successor has devised. I hate having to decide at the end of the day whether the work I haven’t done yet can wait until tomorrow or do I need to stay late to get it finished. And I hate having to get up at the same time every day.

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