Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Same title, new duties

A few weeks ago my work schedule changed a bit. I now work an early second-shift type schedule, much like my sister the nurse does, actually, but Tuesday through Saturday as always.

The change came about because one position was cut from the newsroom. Now, there’s just the managing editor and me as editors for the six-day-a-week paper, so we’ve split the duties formerly assumed by the associate editor. As a consequence, I’m the one coming in late and staying late to edit copy (stories and stuff) and “put the paper to bed,” as we say. (That just means I read through everything that goes in the paper, tell the designers what to put on which pages, then read through it all again once they design the pages and make more corrections.) I still do reporting as much as I can, which feels like very little.

It’s a rather solitary job, far more than reporting has been, anyway. Most of the newspaper staff leaves at 5 p.m. sharp and the reporters, who start a bit later because of the news cycle, are usually out by 6 or 7 p.m. Then it’s just me and maybe a sports guy or two, off in their own little world about a dozen feet from my desk.

Unsurprisingly, the solitude doesn’t bother me. I actually save most of my writing for those part-hours between sending copy and receiving printouts of the designed pages to proofread. No distractions, no interruptions. It’s heavenly.

It also leaves the sunshiny mornings for my own amusement… bike rides, curling up with a book, having friends over for brunch, going on a walk, taking care of errands, all that great stuff. All the things that people normally picture doing in evenings aren’t my type of thing, anyway – definitely not into the bar scene – so this suits me well.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What I read: “Quiet Strength” by Susan Cain

A while ago I got the writing bug and had all sorts of grand plans for reinventing this blog. One of them was to write more about the books I read. The writing bug has since been funneled into my work, but I’m still reading – and I still like the idea.

Late last week, I finished the book Quiet Strength by Susan Cain, a self-identified introvert who began her career as a lawyer and has since switched to leadership consulting. The book’s subtitled “The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking,” a fitting summary of the book’s contents.

I appreciated Cain’s recognition of how introversion’s unique characteristics are intrinsically worth exercising – such as introverted people’s tendency to resist getting caught up in positive emotion and hesitancy to go forward with a project without having gathered and processed all the relevant information. One chapter, “Why did Wall Street crash and Warren Buffet prosper?,” goes into that aspect in detail. Overall the book’s written with businesspeople in mind – ones who wear suits and ties, endure meetings, attend conferences, make presentations, all that jazz. I’m not one of them, but there’s still need for wise leadership where I work and go to church and volunteer. I figure I can glean from this kind of book some insights  to apply in non- or semi-business situations.

Another thing I liked about the book was that she didn’t go dismissing the real benefits of extraversion while expounding on the benefits of introversion. The balance was great – and is often lacking in popular literature (think books and websites), which always bugged me. I’m introverted (I’m pretty certain!) but I still think extraverted people are awesome and have strengths of their own. She talked about the ways extraverted people can and sometimes should imitate introverted people more, but she also has a chapter on helping introverts like me determine when and to what extent we should consider acting more extraverted. (FWIW, it basically boils down to: When it’s in pursuit of a deeply valued end and it doesn’t tax you too much, make you hate the thing toward which you’re working.)

All in all, a book I’d recommend, but not one I’m going to buy, I suppose. Then again, there are very few books I do buy. (And most of them are by C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, A.W. Tozer or G.K. Chesterton. I seem to have an inexplicable affection for initials.)