21 April 2006

0 "from what i've discovered about our industry, we are in a very annoying profession"

(a rather self-indulgent rant on the perils of working in one's field)

i'm an english major through and through (quirky, quiet, decently-read and with a fondness for anything that has elbow patches). i am also working "in my field," which is the impossible dream of every english major. added to that i'm working from home in a beloved other city. and for this i am eternally grateful, and should never complain when weekend work is required to meet the deadlines that we never make or when clients do crazy senseless things. there are, after all, only so many jobs where you get paid a nearly liveable wage for reading books, drawing pictures, and playing with words, and there are a bazillion other english majors clawing to get into them. but...

usually, i feel like this:
or like this:
yesterday, work made me feel like this:
if ever there was a messed up industry, it's publishing. L and i agree on this and have had many a convo in recent months pondering the craziness of our line of work. hence, L's profound observation of last night: "from what i've discovered about our industry, we are in a very annoying profession."

any business sector built upon deadlines and bringing together writers (who fight for the beauty of words, are full of ideas and care little for money), artists (who fight for the beauty of images, apparently are unable to read and care little for money) and salespeople (who fight for money, won't read and care little for beauty) is going to make for a madhouse. it's not a coincidence, then, that there's a long and noble tradition of industry-bashing literature: bridget jones' diary, the devil wears prada, and the entire catalogue of the red dress ink imprint. gawker has built an empire upon skewering manhattan media upwards of thirty times a day.

the boss (a salesman) says that publishing is difficult because writers and designers (aka artists, aka me) have such "harsh personalities." but there's more to it. publishing is uniquely troubled by a proponderance of complicated communicators. will openly admit i'm chief among these. am a total moron on the phone and require at least ten minutes to process an entire conversation- which means the boss' "well, say something" neediness is seldom met to his satisfaction.

i've never been a fan of group work (it so often turns lord of the flies) but in publishing, four or five people work on the same project without ever speaking. even i recognize the stupidity in this. in the past week, L has been taught four entirely different ways to route a manuscript. we both have sent manuscripts to designers only to have them returned with half the corrections made and the other errors unchanged. are we being ignored or are they being dense? either way it's bizarrely pick-and-choose.

clients only exacerbate the complicated communication. at the moment, we're dealing with representatives from a scarily disorganized educational institution. the client is the sweetest woman that ever was but she has no filter whatsoever. the boss, myself, JD (the favorite writer), and our administrative assistant have all been regaled with her tale of bureaucratic woe. there is no clearly professionalism left. the phrase "i should be in therapy" surfaces entirely too often.

all of this leads to the three greatest lessons i've learned as an employed wordsmith:
  1. "well, say something" is the biggest convo killer that ever was.
  2. the statement "i should really be in therapy," is a pretty accurate indicator that you really should be.
  3. my personality is not harsh. it's nuanced.

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