Perspectives of a Writer and Musician

Issues related to writing, publishing and playing jazz music: One man's muse.
by Al Stevens

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Location: Florida, United States

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Then and Now

Back in the day (my day, not necessarily yours) it took a while for an author and an editor to establish a personal working relationship. Usually, it was impersonal, business as usual, emails back and forth related only to the project. Eventually I settled on one editor with whom I found a personal bond. She is my daughter's age, and she mothers me. Go figure.

She works for Penguin now, but over the years she moved a few times among publishers. Where she went, I went. But, as I said, it took a while for what started as a professional relationship to evolve into a personal one. I dedicated one of my books to her firstborn.

When we got down to work, however, it was all work. As it should be. We knocked out a lot of books together, and she knocked out a bunch more with other authors. And still does. The rest of whatever teams she'd assemble for copy editing, artwork,  layout, promotion, and so on, were mostly unknown to me. I don't even remember any names. We interacted, but only related to the project. I didn't know about their lives, and they didn't know about mine. Those were professional collaborations, in every sense of the word.

Things have changed substantially in publishing and probably in every profession nowadays. What with social networking, texting, discussion groups, cloud computing, and so on, the notion is that you are in a family rather than a business. And in that family, as in all families, you have to be wary of one another's idiosyncracies, personal issues, hot buttons, and such, lest some off-hand comment incites a food fight for the whole family and sometimes the whole world to witness.

It's as if Jerry Springer is overseeing the publishing business.

But solitude is the writer's friend. Drama, suspense, and conflict are necessary inside the book, but outside it, the only interaction I want is with Emma, shown here.


I neglect to give and do not require gratuitous strokes. Except, of course, to Emma.

I guess I have to work on that.

Or self-publish.

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