I’ve chronicled other people’s jobs on this blog, but never really my own. Possibly because I started this site (in 2007!) right around the time I was transitioning out of an office job and into the freelance world, and you would fall asleep at your desk reading about my day-to-day happenings of working from home in my pajamas and sometimes not moving or speaking or doing anything but staring at a screen and stringing together words in a Word document for hours at a time. Trust me on this one.
Since July, however, I’ve been back in the cubicle saddle—but by choice. The managing editor of our city magazine asked me to fill in for her on maternity leave, then when she returned, she decided she wanted to job-share; lucky for us, corporate approved this bold move. It turned out to be a dream scenario for me: I could use my background in magazines and love for all things Nashville to help shape the voice and style of a smaller print publication while writing about things I care about, juggling other projects and maintaining some flexibility with a two-days-a-week office schedule.
Since many of you have, no doubt, seen the media world glamorized on TV in the big screen in shows such as Sex and the City and movies like The Devil Wears Prada, I thought you might find interesting to see the true inner workings of a city magazine (realizing, of course, that no day is “typical” as it’s ever-changing).
9am: Arrive in the office. When I worked in New York, magazines maintained a 10-to-6 schedule (though rarely did staffers ever leave that early). In Nashville, most of our office is in around 9 and out around 5, just like any normal job (though much of what we do does require being “out in the field,” so even if we leave work that early, most of us are usually covering some event or happening until late into the night). Sometimes I’ll get up and go to the gym before work if I’m feeling ambitious; others, I roll out of bed at 7:45am after I’ve hit snooze twice with just enough time to shower and get ready before needing to leave. Once there, I check email, get organized, prepare for another week.
10am: Edit meeting. Each Monday morning, the editorial team—in this case, that’s five of us—plus our publisher (the head honcho) and occasionally the content director, who works on a freelance basis, will meet for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to discuss the current issue as well as the editorial mix for the next couple months. This entails going over any ideas we each have (or ones pitched to us by our roster of freelancers) and discussing all assigned stories and where we are on them, plus what we envision for art (i.e. photography) and what sort of web tie-ins we’re planning to go along with the issue.
If it’s a production week (those are the busiest), we’ll keep the meeting short because we all have a lot to do before shipping the issue off. In this case, it’s the beginning of the cycle, so we have more time to sit, collaborate and map out the next couples months worth of issues.
11am Sales meeting. Sometimes I’ll sit in on this, but usually it’s the publisher and the sales girls who meet to talk advertising goals, any special events (we have a handful each month), how to up newsstand sales and the like. Often, after our edit meeting, I return to my desk and hit the writing (or editing) part of the job hard until lunch.
12:30pm Leave for an interview. Many days, I take our mandatory half-hour lunch break in the office cafeteria, but today I’m heading to the house of Deacon Claybourne—er, that’s Chip Esten to some of you—to do the interview for our cover story. I stop by Fit Food Revolution to grab a pittaya bowl on the go.
Chip is even lovelier than I expected, and much to my delight, his whole family (including his dog!) happen to be around, so I get to meet them all. We chat about his decades in acting, his start in music (then transition back to it later on in life), his trio of darling kids and his love for Nashville (the show but also the city). I don’t want to leave at the end of our hour together.
(I mean, seriously. They call this a job? I call it heaven.)
2:30pm Return to office. I’m still high off my interview—you think runner’s high is something? try reporter’s high!—but there’s so much work to do. Among today’s tasks are setting up an interview with Brian from Florida Georgia Line about his treehouse home, scheduling a coffee with Luke Bryan’s interior designer for an article, and tracking down some outstanding invoices from freelancers. I also have a half dozen completed stories that I need to do a top edit on before sending them to the copy editor, not to mention all of the copy (lengthy features, openers, captions, the works) that I’ll be writing myself, which requires research, reaching out to the source, scheduling a time for a phone or in-person interview, then executing said interview.
Meanwhile, our production designer wants to chat about art needs for next month, our other designer wants to have an initial meeting to talk about content for our next Weddings issue and start going through submissions, I need to see where we are on our biannual At Home issue, and of course there are the incoming stream of pitches from publicists and writers alike to tend to, on top of finishing the edits for the other city title, Murfreesboro magazine, that we control. There’s also plenty of wrangling photography for sections like music where we need to get artists’ press photos (you’d be surprised how much time it takes requesting and following up for images that have already been shot!). It’s a whole lot to keep straight—my desk is an organized jumble of Post-It notes and lists on legal pads—but the mix makes the day fly by and keeps things interesting.
Though I don’t work in the art department, often there are day-long photoshoots for the magazine and I’ll stop by if my schedule allows.
Particularly if I know the subject of the shoot, am interviewing him/her or it’s someone I’d like to meet.
5:30pm: Event. Most days I could leave by 5pm, but the traffic downtown is horrendous at that time so I usually wait until at least 5:30, if I’m not walking down the street to an event in the Gulch, like the VIP opening of Prima. With everything going on within the Nashville food scene, more often than not there is a restaurant opening or other special event to attend, many of which start as soon as the work day ends. Once a month, that event is the media networking organization I started where we all meet in a different spot every time for drinks and mingling.
8pm: Other event. Oftentimes, there are #1 parties at the labels or showcases from artists (both newcomers and veterans) who have albums coming out soon or even a full-on concert at the Ryman or Bridgestone. You just never know—this is Music City, after all. This doubles as my social hours as more often than not, I know a good majority of those in attendance.
10pm: Still another event. The nights I’m actually “on” in Nashville, I never go to just one event; it’s usually two or three (sometimes as many as four). For a relatively small city of just over a million, there are surprisingly dozens of things going on any given night, many invite-only to the media and others free to the public. Last week, it was Carrie Underwood headlining the Opry with Kacey Musgraves, Emmylou Harris and Kree Harrison one night, and Brett Eldredge playing Sinatra to a room of 50 people another.
Midnight: Go home. Catch up on the emails I’ve received since leaving the office. Tend to my freelance work. Schedule content on this blog. Prepare for the following day. Eventually climb in bed sometime around 2am and pass out five minutes after turning on my Kindle. Zzzzzzzzzz.