Thursday, August 14, 2014

An Inspired Visit to Macmillan Publisher's Headquarters

From Cheryl's Writing Crate

When I was a junior in high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer.  There was never any question in my mind that the dozens of journals I’d kept since I was in middle school would pave the way to a Pulitzer-prize career in journalism.  Though I had complete faith in my ability to earn a few bucks in this capacity, my guidance counselor had other thoughts on the matter—“forget it, you’ll never make a good living by writing.”

That was back in 1981, and I can remember it like it was yesterday.  It was a cool, crisp fall day and the last of the jewel-toned leaves of amber and scarlet clung to the near bare branches.  After I was advised to steer clear of a writing career, I completed a career survey which ultimately pointed me to a path more suitably matched with my strengths and likes.  Are you ready for the result?  Sit down now, because you just might not believe it.  A forest ranger!  My interests and strengths would serve me well as one of Smokey the Bear’s companions.

I’ve got nothing against forest rangers, but I just couldn’t picture myself wearing an olive green jumpsuit to work every day.  Luckily, I didn’t follow that path, but sadly, I didn’t pursue my writing passion for nearly 2 decades after I graduated, but let me tell you—it was worth the wait.

Many of my writing goals have been accomplished during the past ten years, and one of my biggest achievements, which came quite unexpectedly, was met two years ago when I was hired by one of the world’s largest publishers—Macmillan. 

Macmillan Publishers, a distinctive group of publishing companies, has a rich history in the book industry and offer publishing in a broad range of quality works—including award-winning fiction and nonfiction, and inspired and much-loved children’s books.  Not only that, they have a significant presence on-line.  I was hired by their Quick and Dirty Tips community to be their parenting columnist.  (Having 8 kids in one decade sort of qualified me!). 

Quick and Dirty Tips (QDT) offers short, actionable advice from friendly and informed authorities that will help you succeed at work and in life. Whether you want to manage your time and money more efficiently, communicate more effectively, observe the correct rules of etiquette, or improve your performance in other home and workplace endeavors, Quick and Dirty Tips shows you that education and entertainment can go hand in hand.

Hosts like Get-it-Done Guy, Money Girl, Domestic CEO, Get-Fit-Guy, the Clever Cookstr and perhaps our most famous host-Grammar Girl give helpful snippets of advice via a weekly podcast and column.  My host name is “Mighty Mommy” and each week I share parenting tips and tricks that will add a bit more balance and perspective to your family’s busy life.

Though I do most of my work from home, I also visit their headquarters in New York City, and last month I had the pleasure of spending a very full day in the Big Apple with my Macmillanfamily.
Traveling to NYC is a snap thanks to the convenience of Amtrak right here in our own backyard.  I grabbed the 7:11 AM train out of Kingston and was in Penn Station just three quick hours later.  Though it was a gray, rainy day for my visit, I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying my commute.

I’ve been to New York a handful of times, but always with other friends or family members.  This was my first time going solo, and I wasn’t going to let a little rain get in the way of navigating the city all by my big girl self.  Just in case, however, my oldest daughter was on standby should I get lost—she’s lived in NYC for two years now so I knew she was only a phone call away.

The frantic, high-paced energy of the city could be felt the minute I stepped into Penn Station, but as the mother of 8 kids it didn’t deter me, and instantly gave me a jolt of excitement.  Dressed in summery white jeans, a cobalt blue blouse and my most comfy sandals I stepped out onto 8th Avenue and 34th St. and giddily headed to Macmillan’s home office in the infamous Flatiron Building.

For more than a century, New York City’s famous Flatiron Building has occupied a piece of curiously shaped real estate at 175 Fifth Avenue, sitting on a small triangular island at 23rd Street and Broadway, facing Madison Square. It is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, appearing in numerous movies and on countless postcards and posters. Aside from the ground floor retail space, Macmillan Publishers is the sole tenant. The Flatiron’s interior is known for its strangely shaped offices, with walls that cut through at an angle on their way to the skyscraper’s famous point. These “point” offices feature amazing northern views that look directly upon another famous Manhattan landmark, the Empire State Building.

I cannot tell a lie—I did get lost!  I went the wrong way on 8th and had to walk a couple extra blocks, in the humidity, drizzle and rain and soon discovered that comfy pair of sandals I was wearing weren’t so great after all and my sleek hairstyle of 6:30 AM was now long gone.  Still, my adrenaline was rushing at a very constant pace so I didn’t notice the beginning blisters or that my hairstyle now resembled that of George Washington’s.

My editor was waiting for me in the entrance way with a big hug and a small piece of advice—never wear sandals to New York!  Still oblivious to the welts startingaround my toes (who am I kidding, I knew those sandals were a mistake when I put them on—I have only myself to blame!) I headed up into the Macmillan suites where I finally got to meet many of the production and editorial team I’ve known via phone conferences, e-mails and texts for the past two years. 

My first impression was how peaceful the office was.  There were dozens of people working in small offices, each strategically handling their own important tasks that ultimately resulted in an article or book getting published.  Some were really scurrying to meet a deadline, while others were laid back and casual about their workload.

I immediately noticed the neat stacks of books throughout the floor I was visiting.  That was a sight to behold.  There were magnificent hardcovers, soft and crisp paperbacks, and colorful audio book covers nearly everywhere I looked.  I stopped, took a deep breath (book paper has always had an intoxicating effect on me), and just pinched myself.  Gratitude poured out of me as I sat in my editor’s office and was treated like a VIP for the entire day.

I was introduced as “Mighty Mommy” everywhere I went that day and although I know it might not be the equivalent to an Academy Award winning actress or a New York Time’s Best Selling author (yet!) I felt like a rock star the entire day.  We worked on some of my short and long-term goals with Quick and Dirty Tips and I also shot 4 videos for the “Mighty Mommy” channel that will be airing this summer.  

I got a glimpse of what other authors were working on and saw the publishing world in a whole new light—behind the scenes—so by the time my day too quickly came to an end, I was revitalized and more excited than I’ve ever been about my career as a writer.  And to make the day even more fantastic, my daughter met me at Macmillan and we had dinner in Times Square—where the sun finally broke through the overcast clouds and made the day complete perfection.

Tired but still on Cloud 9 I returned to Penn Station to board the 9:30 PM train home.   I clung to my daughter for what seemed like forever (those good-bye hugs never get easier) and breathed in that NYC air one last time. It was then that I finally saw the pitiful shape my feet were in but even all those blisters couldn’t burst the sincere joy and appreciation I was exuding after my quick and dirty trip visiting my place of employment—Macmillan Publishers in New York City!  Learn more at

Which of your writing dreams has come true?

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