Publishing Zen

by Emily Jasper on May 5, 2010

I’m fascinated by magazines. I love the glossy pages, all the ads and pictures, and the words! Oh the words! But you want to know what I really love?

What it takes to go to press!

Or at least my perception of it. I fully admit that I am limited in my perception by how the media portrays publishing…more specifically fashion publishing. My two major sources are The Devil Wear’s Prada and Ugly Betty. We’re in the middle of a publishing “crisis” and most of us have extreme examples of magazine publishing in our heads.*

No wonder people say we don’t have a grip on reality.

A few weeks ago I got a little tour of the Mansueto publishing offices in NYC. Fast Company and Inc. are housed there, with large open spaces, glass meeting rooms, and lots of writers sitting in pretty rows. They were in the final stages of getting issues to press, so I would have assumed that it would be a chaotic atmosphere with papers flying, stilettos running, and people yelling, “Get this to layout!”

It was dead quiet.

I actually was afraid to speak. I was glad that the shoes I wore were not clackers. You could feel the air was filled with concentration and focus. Not in a stressed-out-the-boss-is-here-don’t-look-up way, but in a we’re-bursting-with-creativity-and-channeling-it-to-awesomeness way.

This could have been an anomaly. Maybe on every other day it’s crazy, and I just happened to stop in when it was unusually quiet. What I noticed, though, was that emergencies seemed to be handled calmly. No one was screaming down the hall. There were no fires for the sake of fires.

Pages were lined up on tables, and you could see the planning and preparation that had gone into the issue. Even if there was a last minute addition, you knew that someone would get the copy, adjust the layout, and it would all be ok.

If this is publishing Zen, where can I get some?

As bloggers, journalists, or writers, we’d all love some Zen to the creative process. Sure, fire and passion get us going, but did you ever notice when you’re really “on” that the world disappears?  It’s you and the clicking of the keys (or scratching of the pen).

This is something that I think all of us are looking for. You don’t need to be a magazine exec to find it. And that’s the beauty of publishing Zen.

Do you find Zen when you’re producing content? What are other perceptions of the publishing world? Where else to you find Zen in your work life?

Photo credit (and not the actual Mansueto offices).

*I say “crisis” because every time someone says that, I just think of the song “Video Killed the Radio Star.” It’s not about dying but adapting.