put on my blue suede shoes and i boarded a plane

Nose ring, tattoos, and frizzy burgandy hair notwithstanding, I have somehow managed to acquire the professional title of Editorial Assistant to one of the editors in the Nashville office of the fifth largest book publisher in the country.

I applied for this position back in April, among the other thousands of resumes I sent out. I had two phone interviews before I left for Bosnia; two more phone interviews when I got back. Last week, they asked me to drive down to Nashville to do lunch and meet the office personnel. I drove down Monday afternoon, had dinner with a friend from AU and her boyfriend, and settled restlestly and nervously to sleep in my hotel bed.

Tuesday morning saw me in the same dress I wore to Tim Russert’s funeral wake in DC, my most professional-looking glasses, and a pair of high heels I haven’t squeezed into in over a year. Two editors and the Vice President of the division took me to lunch at a restaurant called Mere Bulles, where we drank sweet tea mixed with pineapple juice and talked about the publishing world. I was told stories about a certain daytime game show host’s post-retirement boredom and how he’s been on the phone with my new boss a thousand times a day since they first accquired the manuscript of his memoir. I was told stories about how scary it used to be to be an editorial assistant, before the days the 9-5 work day, and how one publishing company notoriously kept their assistants at the office until nine or 10 at night just “in case something might pop up”.

It was a very pleasant lunch, and felt nothing like an interview. Conversation flowed easily and the chemistry of the group did likewise. I had the subtle impression that they were testing to see how well I’d fit into the office social scene.

I left the office a few hours after I arrived, laden with gifts of as-yet-to-be-released books, hardbound and still smelling like the printer. I was seen off with a copy each of A Guitar and a Pen, a collection of stories by a handful of country music songwriters, including Charlie Daniels and Kris Kristofferson; All Access: Big & Rich, a sort of photo-bio, backstage look at the country group of the same name; and the book I can’t wait to dig into: Willie Nelson’s novel, A Tale Out of Luck. The office itself was lined with book shelves, covered in turn by the works-in-progress of the Nashville office, the previously-published books from the Nashville office, and all the freebies the New York office could fit in the back of a UPS truck. (As an employee, I will not only have access to the manuscripts of accquisitions, but also all the books being published by both the New York divisions and the Nashville divisions before they appear in stores. I also receive a staff discount when buying any of our books.)

I’d been on the highway about 10 minutes when my phone rang, showing a New York area code. My stomach immediately flipped over. On the other end of the line was Maria, one of the human resources people I’ve been talking to over the past three months. She asked how I thought the interview went and after a few minutes’ worth of small talk, she casually asked if I was still interested in the position because, if I was, she would like to extend an invitation for me to join the team.

And with that, I accepted the title of Editorial Assistant. In addition to my salary, I’ll be lucky enough to receive dental, health, and vision benefits as of my first day on the job, a 401k plan starting six months later, and 15 days of paid vacation over the course of a year. I begin work on Tuesday, September 2, leaving exactly two weeks for me to find an apartment, re-pack my life (though luckily, I’ve hardly unpacked anything since moving home from DC), and get settled in to the idea of being a Southerner.

With any luck, this move will be permanent, or at the very least, last significantly longer than my previous move…

…Though 95% of the people my company hires come from within, and it would be no difficult task to apply for a position higher up on the ladder in a few years. In the New York office.


3 Responses to “put on my blue suede shoes and i boarded a plane”

  1. 1 queenofthemtn


  2. The glam life of publishing ain’t what it used to be. I hope the job is still matching up as you’d hoped . . .

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