"I don't know," I sighed. "Being a magazine editor is hard sometimes."
Before all of you start chuckling at that comment - or, worse, rolling your eyes - let me explain.
Not long ago, I put our March/April cover together rather shakily. I had a notion (vision?) that I wanted a garden cover. The only problem was that it's been a rather harsh Southern winter this year, and I had plenty to mull over in terms of making it work.
"What about vegetation?" asked my coworkers. "Won't it just be dirt at this time of year?"
But I insisted that it would look the way early spring/late winter is supposed to look in a garden - full of watering cans, shovels, seeds and cheerful gardeners.
I ran into a few obstacles, naturally. I had to find the people who would agree to be on our cover. I had to obtain our gardening props. I had to frame the shot right - or help my photographer, Kate, frame it right.
After putting together a mock cover with our art director yesterday, I paraded the results around the office to a few people and received a bevy of replies - some feedback a little hard to take. I started feeling insecure. I even started lamenting the subjective nature of my profession - how it's always open to discussion. How any kind of creativity is open to discussion, both negative and positive.
That evening, I cuddled up in bed after my tough day with a fresh issue of Elle, one of my all-time favorite magazines, as y'all know. I flipped to the editor's note and, to my amazement, Roberta Myers was defending a cover from the issue before! She talked about how Elle strives to publish "images to surprise, to convey a side of someone you may not have seen...." Lo and behold, she sounded a little insecure herself. But she courageously stood by her cover.
I know I've written about this topic before, in some form or fashion, but knowing that other magazine editors out there go through exactly what I go through is heartening. It's also a little scary and strange, knowing that no matter what publication I end up working with in my life, I'll encounter the same questions. The difference is, I'll eventually learn to be better at dealing.
Anyway, back to the lunch scene at Page's.
"I think you do a great job," said Courtney, as I placed my order with her for fried shrimp.
"I always pick up your magazine."
"Thank you," I replied with a smile. "That means a lot to me."
And it does. And it will. The great thing about doing creative work is the chance to live each day like it's an adventure. And part of that adventure is being open to discussion, both negative and positive.