Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Confession

The RM has just started a new job--he has been trying to switch careers, going from being an auto mechanic to an elementary school teacher--and teaching the 4th grade involves being out of the house by 6:45, which involves getting up at 5:30 (he's a primper). Getting up this early means morning jogging has fallen by the wayside. But today he dragged me out of bed at 5:20 so we could do the two-mile loop we used to.

Let me tell you, this running-in-the-dark proposal did not thrill me. But I'm glad I got my begrudging heinie in gear. (Yes, btw, I checked, and that's how heinie is spelled. Who knew?) For once, the busy streets in my part of town were almost completely empty, and on our home stretch we got to watch the sun rise over the Bronx.

While I was jogging quietly, I finally thought of what I wanted to say here. I've been procrastinating about posting, because it's hard to undertake a big decision. But I haven't really been fair to the friends who come here looking for me. Thanks to everyone who's sent notes asking if I was ok--I'm perfectly ok, in fact, the best ever. I've just been stalling, and I apologize for making people worry.

The short story, where this post is going, is that I have decided to stop posting here at EdAss. There are a variety of reasons--the biggest one is that I don't really have anything fresh to say anymore. I find increasingly people ask questions, and my answer is some variation on, "Well, let me refer you back to July 2007 [or whenever]..." Sure, the industry has changed, and I've sure as heck changed over the four years I've been blogging, but somehow most of the things I said I still agree with. Fancy that.

Another reason is time--sure, I've always been busy, but suddenly it seems like it's costing me a lot more energy to maintain an anonymous advice blog than it used to. I find that everything I want to write about lately is, well, personal, and not of relevance here. I don't want people's opinions of my personal life choices to affect the perceived quality of the publishing information I have here, you know? So it seems like maybe the best thing to do is make a clean break--leave the publishing stuff here, in hopes that it will someday aid others. (I'm already blogging at a completely unrelated and unlinked place, a place that will never be linked here, so if you're one of the folks who comes here less for publishing and more for insane gossip and are interested in knowing that address, shoot me an email.)

But before I close up shop, I do want to come clean about something. As you might know if you've been reading for a while, I started EdAss as an outlet for my frustrations with the publishing industry. I knew I would always read books and love reading books, but there was a lot not to love about the machine that produces books. In the beginning, my only desire was to air my grievances, but over time, as I joined a community of bloggers interested in publishing, it seemed like maybe I could be more proactive than just complainy--maybe my opinion could help other people. And so the content evolved.

What I got out of the blog, though, didn't change much. I came here to post when I was frustrated and had no where else to go, because when I came here there was a dynamic forum of people who were willing to trade opinions--something one unfortunately cannot count on in real life. There were some really rough times, but when I posted here, you guys made me feel like the time I put in was worthwhile.

The truth is, not all of the four years I've been blogging here have been easy. I'm a person who takes my job very seriously, and professional successes and failures become very, very personal for me--I like to think I'm the kind of editor an author would hope to work with for that reason--so when things weren't going well, I was pretty deeply affected. During the two years of ups and downs, I tried to leave my identity out of my content. "Characters" are composites, stories amalgamations, time lines very heavily fudged (I would frequently write a post but not have it post for weeks or even months to help keep fictional distance). I used fictional characters to help me obscure the more difficult things that happened. So I hope that not too much of this all came through. My intention was not to reveal my problems to readers; I didn't see how that would help me or them.

At one point, it became clear that my company was probably going to downsize me, and then I waited for months for the axe to drop. I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but along the way I saw some truths about how things work that I still wish I didn't have to know about. I eventually found myself out of work during the worst moment of economic crisis, when everyone was paring down editors, and I admit I fully expected I would not work in the industry again.

In the worst moments, when I wasn't sure if I was an editor anymore, I wondered if it was unethical for me to keep my blog. But friends assured me that my having been laid off wasn't a reflection of my understanding of the industry, and didn't make my advice less sound. So I kept the blog as I looked for work, temped, ghostwrote, freelanced, considered other industries, etc. You guys were a huge piece of my social life when I was trying to collect my thoughts and decide what my place in the industry was. I can't really exaggerate how much I appreciate the world we had here, or how much good it did me.

I learned a lot from that hardship, though. Most importantly, I learned what made this job worthwhile to me, and why I still wanted to try to work in this industry: the authors. I think other people probably say "the books" instead, but for me there will always be books, regardless. The difference is when you work in publishing, you can be a midwife to an artist, nurture a career, make a huge difference in a life. The chance to be the caring professional who makes a difference, who helps an artist create a piece of art, is huge. Because authors really, really care, and their books are precious to them. I love talking to authors, learning from them, spending time with them. It's like having an amazing collection of experts in every conceivable topic within arm's reach at all times. At the end of the day, despite it all, I wanted to go back to them. I still thought it mattered, and was worthwhile.

I'm sharing this story of my layoff now, after hiding it for so long, because at the end of the day it is a hopeful story. (Someone wanna count how many times I used the word "hope" in this? Talk about needing an editor!) I hope that its hopefulness might help some people who've read it. I feel like I can safely say I have had every possible reason for giving up already, but I haven't given up. I still want to be a part of this. Now maybe that makes me stupid. But it doesn't make me the first person to get stupid because they fell in love with an art.

In the end, I was lucky enough to find another job--and a much better job than any I'd ever had before. I am well out of the honeymoon period now, and yet I still love my company and current job to death. I'm not really sure what I did to deserve this kind of luck, but I will say that it was people I'd met blogging here (three of them in particular) who got my foot in the door. I know I can't ever thank them enough, but I hope I have at least thanked them enough that they know who they are. And I owe thanks to everyone else who has been part of this community, too. Even if they didn't help me quite as directly, they contributed to my confidence, my sense of commitment, and my desire to be the best I could. So thank YOU.

It is a sad net-net to arrive at, but the honest truth is that blogging has filled its function and run its course for me. It got me an awesome job. It offered me a place to vent when no one else would listen. But the thing is, I just don't need it anymore. I have no need to vent; now, if I have an opinion, I just go tell my boss, who is always interested.

So, selfishly, I am closing EdAss. I will leave it online, in hopes it will continue to help people looking for guidance on various things, but I won't be posting anything new. I'll keep my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I hope the many people I've come to think of as friends will keep in touch. This blog and the people who've made it interesting have been a huge part of my life, a source of great pleasure and much education. I hope other people feel the same, and aren't too sad that I don't have anything else left to say. I sure am going to miss it.

Thank you. For everything.