Sunday, July 1, 2012

“Wall review” triggers weeks in review

Mumbled cursing, hurried clicks of high heels, and angry pecks on the keyboard overtook a typically type A, calmly efficient office. Today the Martha Stewart Living book closed (rather, it is currently closing as I’m typing). I walked along “the wall,” where the printed mock-ups are pinned and waiting for Pilar Guzman’s approving nod, and I had a moment. The cream cheese laced blueberry cupcake that I tasted two days earlier caught my eye. Its taste still lingered on my tongue, as I stared at an image that looked as edible in print as it did atop a stainless steel serving tray.
In this moment, I experienced a true print cycle: an idea became a recipe, and the food team perfected the recipe, as the photo department shot it, and then writers tasted and captioned the idea, so readers, too, could enjoy the blueberry muffin upgrade. Today, I walked the line between Martha Stewart Living reader and member of the Martha Stewart Living team, but committing to both personas is what makes this mag tick. Just as there is something harmonious and cyclical about the day-to-day and book-to-book between departments, there is a connection that is never lost between writer and reader, or magazine and mission, here at MSL.
A reader will flip through the issue and do more than merely skim past the blueberry breakfast staple. She will bake it. Perhaps the muffin won’t be a replica of what’s printed on page 98, but it will be just the taste – just the recipe – the reader needs. Similarly, that blueberry muffin is just what the department needed mid-week. Only when a home-cooked sample escapes the test kitchen, will the art department drop its sketchpads, the craft department ditch its tulle and scissors, the wedding department awaken from its daydreams of honeymoon bliss and the features department detach from its computer screens, to follow the aroma. 
Like family dinner, the camaraderie of tasting and talking over a single, perfect – but not too perfect – muffin is just the distraction the staff needs from unanswered emails, clashing color palettes, to-do lists, and all those other ordinary chores that readers, too, want to escape. So, for now, the book is not as important as the blueberry perfection pinned to the board and the moment when we all first tried it. That is, until another smell breaks free from the test kitchen.

- Becky Mickel, Martha Stewart Living

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