I’m mostly happy with my editing and writing duties at Foreword, but should Oxford or Princeton or Nebraska or California call looking for help in their new-title acquisition office, all bets are off—acquisition editor at a top university press is my dream job.
I’m confronted with that fact every couple weeks or so, when the daily stack of new galleys gets dropped in my office and I’m suddenly thunderstruck with a title. God, what a great idea, what a brilliant, important project!
And I imagine the lucky-stiff acquisition editor receiving the book’s query letter a few years back from a prominent physicist, naturalist, oenologist, expert of some sort, thinking to herself, God, what a great idea, what a brilliant, important project. And I discovered it!
Then the fun starts: She quickly books flights to London or Sorrento to meet with the author. A week of negotiations and editorial strategizing take place over long, Vermentino-soaked dinner conversations, some of which require—oh, the horror of it all—cigars and cognac. Then back home to catch up on some sleep and field through another batch of pitches. What a life.
Maybe I romanticize a bit, but my admiration for that crucial job is wholly sincere. Leave a man his dreams.
Back to earth.
Let me share a few words from Gudrun Pflüger’s newly released Wolf Spirit: A Story of Healing, Wolves and Wonder (Rocky Mountain Books), a memoir that stopped me in my tracks. In her epilogue, Pflüger first explains the mind-set of a young, low-status wolf leaving her pack to start anew. She then lays down these memorable words for her readers:
Setting out means change, and change means life. When we can’t change anymore, we lose our drive to actively and attentively make our way through life. Our spirits and our souls become rigid, and our bodies just carry our empty shells around. When you start to not want to change anymore, you are old, and when you can’t change anymore, you are dead, even if you are still consuming or still believing what the media tells you. You are dead because you’ve written off your actual purpose, the one that is intended for you and you alone: your contribution to make our entire world a little better.
Matt Sutherland is Managing Editor at Foreword Reviews. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.