Sunday, August 08, 2010

BEDAu Day 8: You are a well-respected editor at a large publishing house. How much of your identity is wrapped up in that statement?

To begin answering this question, let me first tell you a story.

The spring before I went to college, I went and visited the Georgia Southern University campus in Statesboro to interview for a spot in the Bell Honors Program. As I have mentioned in this space before, the BHP was a full scholarship program with a small group of new incoming students each year. The BHP curriculum got you through the basic core classes expected of everyone at GSU, but they were taught in a "higher-level" seminar style (kind of like graduate school?).

I had already completed the paperwork and submitted my entry essay (which you can read here in all of its cringe-tastic glory: But I had to do one more thing; go in for a personal interview with the BHP director and some of the faculty.

Dr. Joiner asked me questions about myself and some other perfunctory stuff about the essay that I wrote and the type of activities I had done in high school. Standard, getting-to-know you type of stuff. At the very end of the interview, there was The Final Question that was (I later learned) asked of all the prospective candidates. The question is "If you knew that someone in this room could give you the honest answer to any single question, what would you ask them?"

I thought about that for a minute, looking down at my hands in my lap, which had recently been sitting on the table and leaving sweat marks for all to see on the table top.

I looked up and said "I would want to know what job I could find that when I woke up in the morning . . . three days out of five, I would be happy to be going to work."


So, that is where I start my answer to this question. How much of my identity is dependent upon my role as editor? It is very little, I hope. Certainly, I hope that the people I work with see me as more than the sum of my editorial skills. I dearly hope that my family and my church friends and my extended relatives think of me in more expansive terms than whether or not I can diagram a sentence and shorten wordy sentences down to fit a space.

The standard hope is that when I die, people won't talk about what a great editor I was or how many successful book projects I was involved in. They will remember things like my sense of humor or my willingness to help when asked. They will remember parties I held or the fact that I delivered a stuffed pepper and a metal helmet to people on their birthdays. They might remember that I had a good cheesecake recipe.

Hopefully they will remember me as a good father, a good husband, a good friend, and a good brother or son. These are the things that i hope can truly define me. These are the characteristics that I certainly WANT to be remembered for.

Anyway, there is my answer.

Thanks for asking.

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