19 April, 2011

I've been doing a strange jigsaw puzzle

I've been trying to come up with a good word picture that describes what this magazine editing process has been like, because it has been a big and complex project, but one that is hard to describe to anyone who's never been involved in publishing. 

Here's a try:

I was given a mission - do a jigsaw puzzle that depicts hope in the midst of this disaster in Japan. I wasn't given the puzzle pieces. I wasn't told how many pieces I needed. I wasn't even given a picture.

So I went on something like a scavenger hunt. I found pieces, lots of pieces. Most of the pieces belonged to other people so I had to ask their permission to use their pieces to make up this puzzle. In the end I found too many pieces. As time went on I found some pieces didn't fit, they were the wrong shape or the wrong colour. They were good pieces, but didn't fit into this puzzle or they looked too much like another piece we already had. As I went along I had to discover the rules of the game. Other rules I had to make up for this special puzzle. 

A couple of the people who owned some of the pieces didn't like the way my team had used their pieces. I had to deal with that, try to make peace. This was an emotional puzzle, one that many people had a stake in.

I've written hundreds of emails to do this jigsaw puzzle. I've gathered a team (or God has placed a team) around me who've contributed in various ways, definitely a team puzzle.

In the end I found out that the puzzle has no edge pieces. Strangely enough it was mostly me who decided what will be included and what won't. And in the end I discovered that this jigsaw is only a small part of what is a much, much larger puzzle - one that we'll never see until after this earthly life is over.

I'm sure that when the jigsaw is finally completed it won't look exactly like anyone expects it to. I hope that people are surprised, not disappointed. I hope that I am satisfied with the end result.

What do you think? Have I pushed the analogy too far?


taylorcrowson said...

I think it's a great analogy. Realizing there were no edge pieces is enlightening. For me it also speaks to the idea that this sort of thing can't be put in a box on a shelf somewhere and forgotten about.

Janet said...

As a fellow editor, I think it's a fabulous analogy. You've hit the nail on the head Wendy! You might be interested in my latest blog post which also touches on the life of an editor ... "A Lisp is No Impediment".