In a recent New Yorker article about Google’s New York headquarters, the writer describes a series of many different themed micro kitchens, including one with a Lego theme. My experience with Legos is in stepping on them with bare feet, or vacuuming them up by accident, or berating the young Lego-addicted lads in my house to pick them up and put them away. Imagine, instead, getting to play with Legos. Imagine working in a place where fruit and drinks and snacks are purchased by someone else and stocked in kitchens just waiting for you? Imagine if the food is just there, not requiring a trip to the store, hauling in the bags, putting things in the cupboard, and not having to fold up those bags or remembering to take those bags back to the store on your next trip so you can be green and good like the other kids. Imagine working where someone wants you to have fun and be happy?
The writer’s life is a solitary one. We live in our chairs, at our desks, in our heads. We don’t have subway themed break areas. Breaks are for wimps. Breaks are for dashing to the basement and changing the laundry, snatching the last load and folding it before it gets wrinkled. Breaks are for a quick game of Scrabble with the friend who always beats us. Breaks are for remembering to send out those publicity materials that should have gone out last week or throwing chicken breasts and marinade into a plastic bag so there will be dinner.
I want to be one of those grizzled oldsters–the engineers–who are the venerated senior minds in a world swarming with young people. I struggle to understand platforms and branding and social media. I would like to be reminded, on the days when I feel like maybe it’s time to hang up my running shoes and shuffle off into retirement in my fleece-lined slippers, leaving the field to eager youngsters that I still have things to contribute to the world.
I’m thinking about the world of Google, and about how fast the publishing world is changing, because in a week I’m heading off to Chicago to a Sisters in Crime strategy session. The current board, plus some of us oldsters who headed the organization in years past, are gathering to discuss how an organization founded twenty-five years ago to “promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry,” can remain relevant and continue to provide useful to support to our members. (A history of Sisters in Crime can be found here: http://www.sistersincrime.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=5)
I’m thrilled to be invited, and to join Molly Weston, Sarah Glass, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Laura DiSilverio, Martha Reed, Cari Dubiel, Judy Clemens, Marcia Talley, Sally Brewster, Mary Boone, and Frankie Bailey for two days of discussions about our future.
Getting back to Google, its relevance to my life and strategic planning, is this: What I want most, though, of the things I’ve read that Google offers, is to ride around on that red five-person bike, while I conference with other creative people. This might make the best kind of writers group, or writing class, or critiquing session. That red bike would add an element of whimsy and fun while enforcing some kind of cooperation and collaboration. In Chicago, in a room full of the brilliant women I love and respect, I’m going to climb onto a big red bike, set my misgivings about being “over the hill” aside, and we’re going to ride around, delighting in each other’s company, and share our ideas for shaping a positive future.