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blacksmith The Nobility of Hard Work and Making What You Love

I had an experience last week that I shared internally as a Labor Day weekend message. I thought it was worth sharing with all of you because I think it speaks to the rewards of dedicated hard work and being passionate about the work you do (regardless of what that work is) — and how easy it can be to take that work for granted.

I was standing in the hallway of the MAKE offices where we put up all of the page proofs for the issue we’re currently working on. We’re closing in on finishing Volume 32, so most of the pages were spread out before me. Steve Davee, who’s now part of the Maker Education Initiative, was in town for a meeting. He saw me perusing the wall, came over, and began to enthuse (paraphrase):

Gareth, do you realize how amazing what you all do is?,” he asked. “I mean, look at this. It’s SO cool! You guys do such an outstanding job. The magazine is beautiful. It’s really not easy to convey all of this complex information and make it so readable, understandable, and lovely. Look at these illustrations! (He pointed out several particular illos and explained why he thought they were exemplary.) I can tell how much work and care you all put into each and every piece. It’s REALLY amazing.

I felt so proud in that moment. I was suddenly seeing all of this intense effort through somebody else’s eyes. It’s easy, when you do something day in and day out, for the time, effort, and love that you put into it to disappear; for you to become complacent. Looking at the Proof Wall with Steve, I could suddenly FEEL all of that effort — the time all of the authors took to create those projects, write those articles, the labors of the illustrators, photographers, and the designers, the in-house project builds of the interns, the editors’ endless meetings, emails, fact-checks, edits, and re-edits, the work of our Sales & Marketing team. And then, of course, out of our hands, it’s off to the printers where a whole other team of worker bees and machines descend on our labors to create a physical magazine. And then the machinery of distribution and subscription fulfillment which takes over after that. It’s hundreds of people coming together, working very hard to create a product that we’re very proud of. At least we are when we stand back and think about it. (And, of course, you’re in that loop too, as subscribers, supporters, contributors, Maker Faire participants, etc. We’re all in this.)

So, thank you Steve Davee and Labor Day for giving us an excuse to reflect on our labors.

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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