Another issue put to bed

It’s interesting how the vocabulary of living with children is borrowed for writing and publishing. A book or essay is said to be birthed. A magazine issue is said to be put to bed.

Which is what we did today — we tucked in our 36 pages for December — meaning it’s all set (electronically) and off to the printers, and except for the press proofs which we’ll give a final look-through tomorrow, it’s what it’s going to be.

One of the things I’ve liked best about this job is the rhythm of it, the ebb and flow of brainstorming ideas, finding and assigning authors, gathering stuff, making decisions about what’s in or out, the editing itself, layout, and proofreading that brings us round to this moment every month, another one done. I like the days of the cycle when the designer begins to set down the material we’ve worked on. But the last days of it are full and sometimes intense. There’s still decisions to make as we see the copy landing on the page,and we’ve got a deadline. I proofread with a ruler under every line and my lips move — I simply can’t trust my eye to read the word accurately unless I see it isolated on the line and say it.

We’ve made no pretense of being up-to-the moment in the small Mennonite world we inhabit — it’s impossible as a monthly — but at least until press time we try our best. We carried two news pieces in this issue referring to talks our MB seminary in Fresno, Cal. has been having with Fuller Theological Seminary, about being a distance education site. It provoked discussion at the conference’s recent annual general meeting. The executive board gave it “considerable deliberation” at their meetings following, according to their release. Then yesterday, in a news release from the seminary about the installation of their president, assistant editor K. spotted, in what was little more than a throwaway line, that the talks are off. Rats! I mean about the currency of the news pieces. We inserted a short note after one of them saying that Fuller had withdrawn, and that will have to do until we can get the longer (I was going to say “fuller”) story.

Typical putting to bed. I remember the evening-long procedures of baths and pyjamas, the string of last minute trips to the bathroom, the thirst requiring another drink, the begging for just one more chapter of the book, the sudden fears or recollections of what was supposed to be brought to school the next day. Busy, and often intense. Then, asleep — my goodness, in terms of children they were about as good as it gets.

Just like the issue we put to bed. It’s always my favourite. Not that it’s ever quite what we’d imagined, but it’s good enough. As I did at the bedsides of our sweet sleepers, I speak a prayer of release and blessing when I sign off on it. Tomorrow K. and I will meet to talk about the next — which I’m always sure will be the best one yet.

[some of my earlier favourites when put to bed]


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