Wednesday, October 06, 2004


In which the blather continues unabated...

So I was having a slow day today at the RBM (Really Big Magazine, for those of you keeping score at home), and I'm also way wigged out now that actual persons are reading this. Once I know I have an audience, be it 10 of millions of magazine readers or one or two blogophiles, it's awful hard for me to shut my mouth.

Today was a bit of an easy-breather, at least until my 4 o'clock meeting with the Chief (who I admire just about as much as I've admired anyone in this business, but who is there still a wee intimidating to me. She wanted me to write something--but fast--for the issue that we're milliseconds from closing, and already in my time here I have gained a not-as-yet-quite-earned reputation for nailing copy together, queek like de bunny. It's my own fault for banging out a 1500 word story in one afternoon my second week on the job. I was a smoldering husk when it was over, but still...). I think I know what she wanted, so I used spare moments here and there to slap together a rough outline and check with a few reliable experts on the topic. If they all call me back tomorrow (and remember, when you work for the RBM, everyone calls you back), I might be able to get all my reporting done by lunch and possibly (here's where I jinx myself) have a first draft to the chief by the end of business tomorrow.

I take no pride in that kind of hackwork (okay, I take a little pride. It's cool when your boss gives you that struck-with-a-board look when you hand him a story he assigned to you as a formless concept a mere 24 hours earlier). It's something my brethren in the newspaper trade would accept as part of the job. That's why I got out of newspapers fast. Magazine deadlines are tough enough (no, they don't happen only once a month. Here, we have a rolling set of weekly and daily deadlines that I would explain in more detail, but I actually would rather you READ this blog, not nod off in its glow).

PMS last week was actually not too insane. I was first at bat and had 5 story ideas to pitch. Three were green-lighted immediately, one was deemed interesting, but requiring more work in a specific direction and will be re-presented next month, and one was flat out rejected.

Of course, the one that was flat-out rejected was my favorite. Perfect for us, I thought. But the Chief is above all things the Last Word on the Vision of the Magazine, and the spirit medium of What the Reader Wants, so it's her call.

I'm not being sarcastic here. A great editor in chief has to be the living avatar of what the reader wants. She's got to know it better than anyone--better than the readers, even--otherwise, those readers abandon you, newsstand sales slump, subscriber bases plummet, and suddenly your sales staff is offering 2-for-1 ad deals.

And's hard to let a good story idea go. Next month, if I get any other ideas swatted, perhaps I could suggest that, instead of the Christmas gifts that are typically bestowed to staff, she might instead issue editors some Automatic Idea Acceptance coupons, redeemable whenever we have a story we can't let go of.

Instead, I'll probably just get a fruit basket.

From Somewhere On the Masthead

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