I will consider myself a generic editor. And every generic editor has a generic desk. And every generic desk has a few objects in common.
1. Coffee/Tea Mug
Saviour/fount of hope/elixir/what’s your poison/call it what you will. This sits in one corner of the desk, quietly saving lives every single day. The health-conscious/weak-tummied/diet-control/rehab folks sit pretty with their green tea. The regulars get by with a full mug of tea or coffee. Even the rare non-tea/coffee drinkers have one around even if to only store pens and stuff. The mug is often found abandoned, half-full, with cold, stale beverage whistling a merry song inside, as the hapless editor sits lost in proofs or locked in the boss’s chamber.
2. Treasure Chest of Stationery
We love, love, love stationery! You can never have enough. Pens of different colour, pins, rulers, pencils, markers, highlighters, clips, staple pins, you name it we’ve got it. Yes, yes, they all serve their own purposes and we are not just hoarding. But I am sure not everyone feels as handicapped when the wine red pen runs out and the next stationery delivery is a week away! Or maybe it’s just me! Oh what the heck.
3. Flags and Post Its
Translucent ones, thin ones, big ones, bigger ones, we keep them all. Author’s phone number, page markers, that reminder about calling the production head, that new cover designer’s name, that ISBN you were supposed to check, Mr X’s travel dates, instructions for printers and other editors, errors, praise, everything finds its way into this colourful bits of paper. Also, the occasional ‘Touch My Sandwich and You Die’!
4. Notebooks and Planners
Multipurpose writing space. For schedules that will never be met. Notes to be soon forgotten. Random nonsense you like to write sometimes.And most importantly, doodling during those long, long, oh-so-long meetings.
5. Stacks of Paper
Stacks of all shapes, sizes and kinds. Slush piles, proofs, CRCs, final manuscript sets, invoices, bills, letters to be signed, permission letters, leave applications, emails to be filed, contracts. Sometimes they sit for years, gathering dust, watching editors go by. We sometimes pull out old ones to wipe spilt coffee (guilty!) or weigh down glued things. But every true-blue editor swears by those stacks. And guards them with his/her life. I know of one editor who refused to leave her proofs during a massive earthquake to evacuate the building. She said she’d rather go down with the office. There are those that rescued proofs from flooded offices. And there are some like me, who disown it as soon as the book goes for printing, refusing to even look at it again, in case another error pops up. But there is always a stack. And it stays that way.
Bonus Miscellaneous Stuff
- Rubberbands: So many rubberbands! To hold proofs and bundles together. And used occasionally to shoot paper bullets at neighbouring editors.
- Calendar: To look at in horror once a day, and forget about immediately.
- Food: Because 11 a.m. is hunger time! So is 4 p.m.! And lunch is just not enough!
- Style Manual and Dictionary: because we do look at those once in a while. But use them as paperweights more often (web searches are so much easier!)!
- Bubble Wrap Sheets: For stress busting. When the bugger manuscript seems never ending. Or the author goes AWOL (more on this in my last post here)
What does your desk look like? Share in the comments below!