Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Patron Saint of Editors

My mother emailed on Friday to tell me that Jan. 31st is the feast day of Saint John Bosco, Patron Saint of Editors and Publishers. His connection to editors and publishing seems a loose one, and mostly related to the creation of tracts and treatises. As a young man, though, Bosco was a juggler, a magician, and acrobat. As an adult, upon discovering that his vocation was to work with/educate disadvantaged children, he used those same skills with a different goal; once he attracted an audience with tricks and sleight of hand, he would begin to teach, and the youth gathered would listen more willingly than if lessons had been forced upon them.

When I think of the many acts of multitasking performed by an editor, I have to admit that some days it indeed feels like juggling, magic, and acrobatics are required in order to get everything done, though I don't recall that those skills were officially listed in my job description. But I also love that, not unlike the manner of the Saint himself, editing is a profession that allows me to put to good use many skills collected from my own past--among them, my background in marketing books to teachers and librarians; my understanding of classrooms, teachers, and young readers, gleaned from my training as an elementary school teacher; and my belief, picked up from my days as a youth minister, that relationships are at the core of all that that's important in life. In fact, I feel like I realize anew each week the importance of the many relationships that add up to create a book's life. At Bowen Press, our colophon is "Only connect!" and I believe relationships are an enormous part of that goal--we aim to inspire and be inspired, not only by our own connections as editors to artists, authors, agents, teachers and librarians, but also by the even-more-important connections of authors and artists to characters, and characters to readers.

I wish I could claim to have celebrated the feast day of my profession by having juggled and done acrobatics. Instead, since it was Saturday, I spent the day feasting in ordinary but important, soul-filling ways: soaking up life, connecting with some of the people and things that inspire me, contentedly wandering my neighborhood, and NOT doing work on the weekend for a change. I did, however, see my favorite local character--the guy in my neighborhood who "walks" his dog while riding his unicycle along the sidewalks of Brooklyn--an urban acrobat of sorts. I suspect St. John Bosco would have liked him a lot!


beth said...

How interesting. Sounds like a saint I'd like to go back in time and meet!

Jean said...

Hey Molly,
I'm glad I'm not the only one who has a mom that keeps me up to date on the saints. I'm surprised my mom hasn't sent this one to me yet. She would have drawn the loose connection from "editor" to "writer." By the way, we'll have to ask both our moms who the patron saint of writers is.

Under the Covers said...

I tripped across your post this morning after just last night tripping across a bio on St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers. After deciding he would singlehandedly convert 60,000 Calvinists back to Catholicism, his sermons were received with slammed doors and thrown rocks. He wrote them down and began slipping them under doors. The recipients were afraid of him at first but eventually warmed to his work. I suppose writers can relate to his rejection and the subsequent desperation to have one's work read, but I haven't yet decided whether I find his story inspiring or the teensiest bit scary.

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A patron saint is a saint who, in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Catholic practice, is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person. Patron saints, because they have already transcended to the metaphysical, are believed to be able to intercede effectively for the needs of their special charges.

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