Saturday, August 01, 2009


In Which We Start at the Very Beginning...

A wiser man than I once said that people don't read magazines for who they are, but for who they want to be. That in every magazine there is an inherent promise to grant a wish. Spend enough time with magazine editors and you will hear people talking about "the promise." What is the promise of this story? Have we got enough of the promise on the cover? The promise is that particular piece of verbiage that tells the reader not only what the story is about, but also what they can hope to have or become by reading it.

I got into magazines by virtue of a very different kind of promise. When I was a wee lad, I was a voracious reader. When I ran out of kids' books--The Great Brain, Encyclopedia Brown, even the musty old Hardy Boys books we had in the attic--I would read whatever my parents had on hand. Often as not, what they had was magazines, new and old, piled high in a big old wooden barrel in our living room. I got into the habit of reading to my mom while she did chores. I'd start with Woman's Day or Better Homes and Gardens. Some days, Mom did a lot of ironing and I'd dig deep into that barrel, reading to her from the musty vintage magazines she and Dad had accumulated over the years: Collier's and Holiday and many others. I always saved Reader's Digest and its humor departments for last. My mom loved those little nuggets. Oh, they made her laugh. "You know," she used to tell me. "Someone writes those for a living."

I pointed out that readers sent in the anecdotes for the Digest. "Yes," my mom countered, "but someone at the magazine polishes them up, makes them sound better, funnier. They get paid to play with words." It was a compelling promise, especially for me. I loved words. Picked them apart, played off them, strung different ones together to see how they looked on a page, or hear how they sounded spoken aloud. The idea that you could make a living doing this was an arresting one, even at the age of 10.

And now, here I am, 30 years later. After two decades of writing and editing, after playing with words for a variety of venues, some you've all heard of, some you haven't, I'm here: Seven months unemployed, scraping up enough freelance work to keep the lights on and the mortgage current. Whatever promise that compelled me as a child to choose this work seemed long since to have evaporated.

Or...maybe not:

I've just accepted a job to be editor-in-chief at one of the biggest magazines in the world--or at least it used to be.

Trust me, you've heard of it.

The magazine is in the process of a redesign (Incidentally, it also shares something very much in common with the day, time, and basic nature of this blog entry). My job is to help restore it to what it was in its heyday. To be paid to play with words.

As opportunities go, this was one of the most unexpected of my life. The notion of running a magazine--let alone this one--was a dream I had just about abandoned. Taking this challenge on may be my finest hour—or a total train wreck. Or, knowing me, probably a little bit of both.

Either way, I may be gone for a while--the "For Sale" sign goes up in front of the Magazine Mansion tomorrow. Even though I won't be in my new office until the middle of the month, I'm already deep into issue planning, as well as wrapping up the last of my freelance and, somehow, finishing my book proposal. Oh, and fixing up the house with spackle and fresh paint. Lots of spackle and fresh paint.

But I'll be back. As I wrote in my very first entry, "this is my attempt to cope with it all." I thought I was talking about the business I was in, but I see now that I was really talking about my life. And this blog has become a very special part of it. So I'll continue to use it as another opportunity to work with words, in whatever way seems to suit me. That's my promise.

You're welcome, as always, to follow along.

Yours (Once Again),
From Somewhere on the Masthead

Fantastic news MM, I'm really excited for you. You really deserve such a great oppotunity, I hope it's everything you want it to be. Aquilegia.

but, does this mean i have to wait another several years to read your book???

i imagine the next while will be crazed and stressful. when i moved here, someone told me that moving was one of the top three traumas in your life, along with death and divorce. i hope you get through it as painlessly as possible!

what do they say in the magazine world? break a lead? well, whatever, you'll do great!
That is wonderful news... and I suspect well deserved, even if it was unexpected. I am not religious, but the door closes, a window opens philosophy often holds true.
I am absolutely sure you will give it your best - you are a great writer and this is your reward.
Congratulations, I wish you and your family all the best and look forward to hearing from you when you can :)
Congratulations, and good luck! Here's hoping all goes well with the move, particularly with the family. Moving with school-age kids is always tough.

Remember, we're here for you -- part of your extended family. Don't be afraid to reach out to us for support.
What an opportunity! Congratulations!!!
What great news! Congratulations! We'll be waiting for your updates -- and your book, too, of course.

--the former neighbor, in place though not in time
As a new reader of your blog, I wish you nothing but great success. And the bills go on for all of us!

Of course, I am getting panicky. In my short 5 months blogging, three of my favorite bloggerss have shut down.

I think the unwritten rule to post every day is unsustainable and may result in "burnout." I am making up my own rules. Like read more than write.
wow, congratulations! Hope you get to play here sometimes too, though. We'll miss you!
Congratulations! So very happy your dream job materialized. Best of luck and of course, I will continue to wait for your posts here all the while watching and reading you on your new masthead.
Yaaaaay! Can't tell you how thrilled I am to hear this news. Waiting on the book with bated breath also.
Congratulations. I've only just found you and now you're off to bigger and better things. Good luck.
What an adventure!! Congratulations! I guess if you are posting less frequently, I can now go back and catch up on all the posts you made before I started following you...
As relieved as I am to read your news here, I'm sure those feelings are running really, REALLY, high in your neck of the woods too about now! Fantastic that you got a job like this and something you richly deserve too. Don't worry about being in the "train wreck" from time to time -all employment holds that as part and parcel of the job, doesn't it? I wish you and the family a speedy sale at a good price, a smooth move to the new residence for the family and the new job for you. I -along with all your readers -have the utmost confidence in your ability to bring this magazine back to life once again!
This blog world is a strange and wonderful place. My delight for you and your exciting news is no less sincere even though we've never met! I look forward to reading more about this new chapter in the (new!) Magazine Mansion.

All the best to you - you've earned and deserve it.
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! What an exciting new adventure for you and your family. You'll have your ups and downs, I'm sure, but I know you're going to do WONDERFULLY! :)
Congratulations, and all my best to you as you make these moves(career and family).
Have fun!
Congratulations! I wish you and your family the best of luck with everything and look forward to reading about it all when you have time to come play with words here.
How wonderful!
The Saturday Evening Post? That's my guess based on your clues.

This is so good to hear, MM. Congrats on your planetary alignment! I hope settling into a new routine is as painless as possible for you and the family. Good luck with your new job.
Couldn't have happened to someone more talented or deserving. So thrilled for you! Hope the move, new job challenges, and the rest go well. Can't wait to hear updates.
Absolutely Super! A perfect job for you. I look forward to finding your name on a new masthead and to reading your work. Best wishes on a smooth move. Please give us more details soon. Lizardmom
This is truly a turning point in your life. Praying for all the best. Wow. So excited for you and your family.
Damn Straight.
Your my idol for a reason.
And now it just become even better.

The ends of the world.
That's where I will follow you.
And more.

Get the name of the mags your in somehow to me and I will just bloody subscribe to it.
Unless of course its a finance magazine then I might need to think about it ... :P

Congrates on your big break.

Knowing you ... its gonna be a whole lot of fun for us all ... :)
CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I've been following you and I am thrilled for you. LOVE that magazine.
That's wonderful, MM. Glad you've got this opportunity, it's well-deserved. And I will certainly subscribe: I want to see what you'll do with it!
Holy sh*t! OMG! Which general location are you moving? How are the kids dealing with the location change? I hope you aren't going to New York. Please not New York.


Don't forget about us.!

Congratulations, MM! Once I see your actual name on the masthead, I'll make sure that all of my readers know about it and I'll guilt them into subscribing. That ought to keep your head above water for a couple of weeks :-)
congrats!!! many well wishes as you and your family embark on what i'm sure will be many many new adventures!
It must feel pretty damn good to have gone through what you and the family have to come to this sort of opportunity after so many crossroads MM. Congratulations and I'll be waiting to follow along as always!
Congrats from a long-time reader of your blog. Obviously, if you get a chance to mention the magazine you can be sure that a number of use will immediately subscribe.
Congratulations MM! What fantastic news. I wish you & your family the best of luck. It takes time to get settled, take your time and we'll all be here waiting here for you. Keep us updated and I'm sure we'd all be happy to subscribe to ... hmmm are you going to stay anonymous or tell us the name so we can subscribe?
Congrats, it couldn'y happen to a better man.

Since the new work will push back the book I wa sjust getting hyped up about, I guess I'll have to start buying copies of a magazine to hold me over.

...can't hurt from your point of view either. :)

I'll keep clicking my link to come back and see what's up in the new MM Mansion.
Congrats MM! I'm so excited for you!

I actually just yelled "OMIGOD!" Out loud, pretty triumphantly, and all that good stuff.

Grinning from ear to ear - so very happy for you!

This is MOST wonderful news! Congratulations, of course. :) I know your excellent work will be reflected in this some point I hope you share with me the name of it, so I can subscribe! It would be worth it just to read the "editor's notes" section that is sometimes at the beginning of magazines. Do let me know! :)
OMG this is HUGE! I am so excited for you, and your family, and yeah moving is a pain in the ass but when it means you get to do a dream job, well, it's all worth it. This is going to be great!
Congratulations MM! Good luck with the new job and with the move. Take your time, settle in, get comfortable. We'll be here as always, cheering in the background and waiting anxiously for your next post...

Michelle (Lego Boys mom)
what fabulous news - congratulations!! I am sure it will be a fantastic ride and I can't wait to hear what you can share about it!!
Congratulations! I wish you much success in the new position, and hopefully a manageable, bloggable amount of hilarious hijinks to come.
CONGRATULATIONS!!!! That is such wonderful news. Add me onto the big pile of people that are sending you good wishes for a smooth transition. Oh wow, YAY!!!
I've been reading here (and not commenting) for several years now. I have 3 blogs saved in my favorites and yours is the one I look forward to the most. When will you find the TIME to blog? You will be greatly missed, and you are wished much success and happiness. I can't remember my blod ID but I'm not really anonymous.

Best Wishes,
Best wishes, MM! Good luck with the new job/house sale/move/painting/etc. etc. We just sold my Mom's old house so I know how time consuming that can be...get back to us when you can, we'll all be here looking forward to hearing about your new adventures.
Congratulations and good luck with everything. Just for keeping me entertained all these years, I'll start buying the magazine. I can't wait to hear about your family's adventures in your new town. And tell Norman Rockwell's ghost I said, "Hello!"
Wonderful news. I had no doubt you would rise to the top. You can't squash talent. Hate the thought of going through all those magazines looking for you on the masthead but I will, then put my bucks into a subscription.
You once told me not to be thrown off by 80 previous comments. Good thing I got in on the beginning.
Write here when you can MM. We will be waiting.
Congratulations! I'm so happy for you! What a wonderful opportunity. I have no doubt you will whip that magazine into shape!

Cindy in CO
Such wonderful news. You certainly deserve this opportunity. I know you will be super busy with everything but maybe you can send brief updates on Twitter. So exciting. Hope the kids won't have too much trouble with changing schools, finding new friends, etc.
Best wishes
Great news! I'll be thinking about you chapters are exciting and scary at the same time.

Here's to a smooth transition time for the MM family!
What great news! That's awesome MM! Congratulations! I hope this pans out to be everything you ever dreamed of and more.
If I stumble over any latter-day Norman Rockwells, should I let you know?
congrats, MM.
Congrats! 7 months of unemployment. Last time I was laid off, it was 6 months, so that doesn't seem outside the norm. Of course, I got laid off again, a month and a half ago. Here's hoping something happens quicker than not. Good luck with the gig and selling the Mag Mansion. Can't wait to hear 'zactly where you've hung your shingle again.
I go out of the country for a week and return to find you hired, and back in full magazine man mode! So fantastic to hear and I am so happy for you and the family

Good luck packing up and moving, finishing the book, the freelance work, everything.

I shall be watching Suldog's blogs to find out what new magazine to add to my collection. I subscribed to your last one, and will follow you anywhere you go, sir.

Couldn't be happier!
Oh yippy skippy! This is so wonderful!

I know I've been lousy about staying in touch, but you know that everyone here at our house is always thinking of everyone there at your house with great fondness.

And so I am happy to say that we are all celebrating with you!

When I was little, and we had to move, every time we would drive away from our "old" house, my Mom would say "Well, here we go on another adventure!"

I hope that this one proves to be your greatest, and most long-lasting adventure, ever.


Thim :)
Even before I read the comments here, I was thinking that you could get a good bump in your subscriptions just by letting us know which magazine it is. I know I'm one of many who would subscribe just because your name is on the masthead.

Best of luck with the new job & the move! Hope the kids and HLS are taking it well.
Congratulations! It really is a great match for you. I'm subscribing immediately.
Miss ya...hope all is going well and that the house is at least being shown. Question that everyone is asking is the name of mag..I want to know if the move is East or West??

I hope that this dream job fulfills all yours.
Hey hey! From one editor-in-chief to another, welcome to the club! Your circulation is probably quite a bit higher than mine, though!

:-) Can't wait to hear from you - am still at the same email address. Hope all is well, and can't wait to hear where you're moving to! I've moved, too...
Congratulations, MM. This is terrific news.
Well by golly I found what magazine you are editor-in-chief in and I must say I am really excited for you!! I thought of how proud your parents would be too. Have to believe that somehow they know. One door opens and another opens. This is really really cool for you!!!! JAG
CONGRATS, and knock 'em out. I would appreciate if you could somehow elucidate on the actual mag. Yes, I can make assumptions based on comments, but I'm a realist and I need proof... how will I KNOW that's the mag? I don't know your name!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Perhaps some clues? some hints? Perhaps an email comment directly deposited in my blog so I know for absolutely certain??? maybe?

Very very happy for you and yours. Best wishes to all.
I'm still here and will be...
Thats great! Good luck with the new job!
Fantastic news. They have no idea what they are in for. Knock them dead.

Wow! Congratulations on such a wonderful development. :)
You guys. Really.

"To be sure, the magazine is a shadow of its former self, and a bit of a fixer-upper (Incidentally, it also shares something very much in common with the day, time, and basic nature of this blog entry)."

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