#52: The Break-Up, by Liz Mathews

Dear Publishing,

Although it pains me, it’s time for us to come to an end. I would say it’s me, not you, but really it’s both of us. I’ve changed—grown—in the past seven years and you…you…you are still you. I mean, you’re a lot more focused on all things E now (ebooks and the like, that is), but otherwise you’re still meetings and computer screens and tip sheets and pub flashes and proofreaders’ marks. I know, you never promised to be anything else—and it’s respectable how closely you’ve stayed true to who you are (all the blogs-to-books aside).

But that doesn’t change how I feel.

The idea of getting involved with you came to me in high school at a religious ed retreat, while I was reading Stephen King’s On Writing. He mentioned his editor and I thought, “Ah ha! If I edit things, I don’t have to write them first. Brilliant!” From there my crush on you took over my life.

I went to college, and was an English major with the hope that I’d maybe catch your eye, and get on your good side. My last day of Calc 2 was a sad one, when the door to my mathematical life closed seemingly for good, but the promise of you and your billions of pages of printed language pacified me. An internship at the company where I currently work only made my infatuation stronger. Even a year spent teaching in Japan after my college graduation couldn’t shake your hold on me.

The day I began my first paying job with you, I was nervous out of my mind, and seven years later the shy half-smile on my ID card is a reminder of how hopeful I was. I had a job in New York! I was working in a field that had something to do with my degree! And I had health benefits! Our honeymoon period was a dream come true.

Yet some things aren’t meant to last. You may or may not have noticed, but a few years back my eyes started to wander. For a little while I wanted to be a mechanic, and then an electrician. Silly, I know. Your hold on me was too strong for applying to trade school, and I hate being grimy. I dallied with the idea of finding a job at an ad agency, but something about going to advertising school put a bad taste in my mouth. With you, I stayed.

Then came the day when my pharmacist recognized me and called me by name. Maybe it was his impeccable lab coat or his obvious dislike for working in a CVS, or it could have just been his charming smile. OR that he had stood between people and their snazzy drugs.

From that day on, I think you probably knew I was cheating. Making plans, looking up pharmacy schools and salaries, asking questions and figuring out a timeline. Once I began taking part-time science classes, everyone knew our days were numbered. All you did in response was force me to learn about Google Analytics, and then you turned your complete attention to power struggles with companies larger than you. It was as though you were ignoring my cries for help, thinking that it was just a phase I’d get over when I realized I’d be in school for the next decade.

It’s not just a phase. I could name the things that attract me to pharmacy, but that won’t make this any easier for either of us.

So. Publishing, it’s over. I’m happy to attend your events, and I’m still going to follow you on all forms of social and non-social media. I think we can still be friends. And I know everyone says that, but I mean it.

Liz Mathews composes ads for many things science fiction and fantasy. Her writing can be found in magazines, catalogs, newspapers, brochures, and books; and on bookmarks, postcards, cable television commercials, and even doorhangers all across the United States and in some parts of Canada. She lives in Brooklyn but considers the cornfields of Iowa home.