Monday, August 27, 2007

How to be a busy and important publishing professional.

Perhaps you are wondering what sort of special training and skills are required for a rewarding job in one of the nation's fastest growing industries.

Surprisingly few, as it turns out.

In this, the first of a continuing series in which we survey the attributes necessary to be successful in the world of publishing, we will examine the first and foremost skill necessary of any bonafide publishing professional.

Be inscrutable.
It is very important that your visage be that of an unopened book. Your poise and calm may be the only thin tether connecting your boat of salt-encrusted writers to the shores of reason during storms of great stress.

If you are worried about making deadline or missing a printer date, your uncertainty will be legible on your face. Supervisory-doubt is a major contributor to Writer's Panic Syndrome (second only to the ever-pervasive, self-doubt). And like ladling chum into the ocean, any tentative expression on your part could incite a feeding frenzy among the other busy and important publishing professionals. For these reasons, you must practice inscrutability. The last thing you want is for others to read on your face what you are actually thinking.

Fortunately, this will be easy to do, provided you never engage in actual productive thought.

Instead, try picturing that last chocolate-covered donut you passed on the way to your meeting. Imagine how delicious it will be. Tell yourself how much you truly deserve that donut, since you are, in fact, so very busy and important. After several moments of this, it may be necessary to excuse yourself temporarily from the meeting to go down to the kitchen area and wrestle the subject donut from the hands of a starving editorial writer. However, be careful not to hurt the writer, or you will be personally responsible for writing the clever cover copy you were depending upon her to think up at the last minute during the last hour of the workday.

Once you have managed to remove the donut from the editorial writer, take an extra moment to refill your coffee cup. Because a full bladder is so effective at disrupting coherent (and therefore readable) thought, remember to drink up at every available opportunity.

Other thought avoidance strategies might consist of: puzzling over whether or not you did in fact turn off the iron this morning; weighing whether you have adequate fire insurance coverage just in case you did not turn off the iron this morning; deciding on the advisability of telling the woman in accounting that her mustache is showing--a lot; trying to remember the punchline to that extremely funny and slightly ribald joke you were told yesterday; doing kegle exercises, and wondering whether or not saving the cheerleader was in fact, enough to ultimately save the world.

I think you will find that once you get into the habit of practicing non-productive thought that it will come quite easily to you. Next time, we will examine another of the special skills necessary for those of you aspiring to one day be a busy and important publishing professional.

Until then, just focus on that donut.

1 comment:

Jane who? said...

My editorial writer has advised me not to try to take a donut that she has already claimed.

Something about needing all 10 of my fingers.

Maybe the instructional writers will be easier to take.