Archive for July, 2009

Getting what I need from Milwaukee

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

As I implied yesterday, it was with a certain reluctance that I parked the Airstream here at the Fairgrounds.  In an ideal world I’d be parked in some spectacular beauty spot — with the benefits of Internet and telephone connectivity.  But travel is fraught with variables, and you can’t always get what you want. (But if you try sometimes you get what you need.)

In this case what I need is a solid two or three days of wholly uninterrupted work time, plus rock-solid Internet access.  It’s crunch time for me because I managed to confuse June 1 with July 1.  July 1 is when I thought I was supposed to get all of the articles and photos over to Lisa “The Blonde” Art Director.  Well, guess who was The Blonde this time?  June 1 was the true deadline, and I didn’t realize my mistake until June 15 when Lisa pinged me about the delay.

I should probably be mad at the guy who set the deadline in the first place, but that’s me.  (The problem with not having employees is that you’ve got nobody to blame for screwups.)  Of course, by June 15 I was already on the road and traveling too fast to really get intense work done, especially the type of work that finalizing a magazine issue requires.  I need days of complete freedom from distractions, plus it helps to have lots of working space, food & drink readily at hand, and a blatant disregard for personal hygiene.

Fortunately, we’ve been through this before during our full-timing days, and Eleanor knows what to do, namely get out of the way.  I gave her the advance warning over the weekend, and she was able to plan some days out with Emma and Brett so that I could spread out and concentrate.  Tuesday they went to all kinds of interesting places around Milwaukee, including the mandatory custard shop, while I sat at the dinette in my pajamas and banged out emails, edited articles, researched fine points, chased down photos, paid bills, scanned documents, and generally caught up on business.  At 5 p.m. they came back and found that in the course of the day I hadn’t moved much.  Brett’s greeting to me was, “You’re still in your pajamas?”

Well, nobody said making a magazine was pretty.  It’s probably right up there with law and sausage in terms of “processes you don’t really want to watch.”  But it’s also very gratifying when it finally comes together.  We’ve got some great articles, a beautiful cover, a couple of new authors, and even some new ads.  It’s not done yet, but with a few more days of focused effort I should be over the worst of it.

In that respect, being in a moderately ugly campsite is not so bad.  Yes, the view out my window is gray skies, damp asphalt, RVs, a highway, and poles of every possible type, but the inspiration I need to get this job done comes from within anyway.  This is like final exam time.  There’s nothing for it but to get in and wade through the information until the job is done.

For those of you who are sticklers for detail, I will acknowledge that today is in fact July 1, and so by rights I should have had this job done today in any case.  There’s the advantage of not having any employees.  There’s nobody to complain about it except Lisa, who is a contractor and knows I’ll fire her if she bugs me.  (Not really, but I let her think that.)  Deadlines in the magazine world are rather frangible, at least internally.  We try to hold advertisers and contributors to deadlines because otherwise there’s anarchy, but it has been known to happen that an internal deadline slips a few days, especially around International Rally time.

While I’m doing this work, it’s interesting to note how far the weather has changed since last week.  We were suffering intense heat and humidity with brilliant sunshine, and now we have temperatures in the mid-60s and dank gray skies.  Eleanor and I had to go digging under the bed for the cool-weather clothes that we packed to wear in the Pacific Northwest this fall.  Where are my full-length socks?  Where are the long-sleeved shirts?  We are packed for virtually any form of weather that can occur in three seasons, but some of that apparel is well-buried beneath layers, like fossils under sedimentary rock.  It was a 20-minute exercise to locate a pair of pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and socks that rise above the ankle.

I take this turn in the weather as a good sign.  It’s telling me to keep at the job, because there’s no temptation to go outside.  My virtual world is far more comfortable today than the real world of Milwaukee. But we are here, and there are things I want to see, so once the workload settles down I will join the rest of the crew outside and explore some of what Milwaukee has to offer.  Perhaps if I try, I can get what I want and what I need.

About the Author

Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine