IVP - Strangely Dim - Confessions of a Ten-Year Temp

June 11, 2007

Confessions of a Ten-Year Temp

Today marks my tenth anniversary at InterVarsity Press. On June 11, 1997, I walked into my swanky corner office for the first time and formally requested two weeks off.

In my defense, I requested the time off for a youth group trip to the Navajo reservation that I had been planning for a long time. My supervisor decided it would be good for me to get in a couple of weeks training time before my predecessor left, so I started early. The timing of my start date didn't matter much to me, to be honest; I was more concerned that my new job wouldn't get in the way of my living my life.

I don't know if my boss knows this, but InterVarsity Press was supposed to be a temp job for me. I had run out of money while working as a fundraiser for a startup youth ministry, so I took the job at the Press. I figured that I ought to at least enjoy what I was doing while I dug myself out of debt. But time gets away from you, especially when you're enjoying it and seeing the immediate fruits of your labor.

A book is, in a sense, the inevitable destiny of an idea, and so I dwell daily among ideas moving inevitably toward their destiny, making sure that those ideas are well-spelled and adequately punctuated. Then again, a book is often the incubator for new ideas--and not only new ideas but new ways of living. A hallmark of InterVarsity Press's publishing program is a high value of transformation, the thoughtful integration of life. And so in our finest moments to edit an IVP Book is to midwife a midwife, so to speak: to help bring about the means for a person or a community to transform into something better, something new and fresh and more fully alive.

Of course, books aren't the only harbinger of transformation. Whatever growth I've experienced over the past ten years is due only in part to what I've read. I'd attribute perhaps a greater part to the interactions I've had with my friends and colleagues over the years, and to the opportunities that my supervisors and authors have afforded me. I wouldn't have four years of blogging under my belt if it weren't for my boss inviting me to write for the company website, and without this blog I wouldn't have come across some of the remarkable people I've met along the way. Likewise, in my interactions with authors and coworkers I've been challenged to broaden my vision of the church, to reconsider the extent of my discipleship. Given the isolating nature of the work that editors find themselves so often buried under, I've been fortunate to have a distinctly communal experience.

When I first started working at InterVarsity Press I would politely decline every invitation to lunch from my peers--not because I didn't want to lay down roots but because I was that broke. I regret it now, because over ten years you see a lot of people come, and a lot of people go. But I'm on a better financial footing now, and I'm well-rooted in the purpose and values of the Press, and I'm regularly in the mood for lunch. So today I raise a peanut-butter cookie in gratitude to InterVarsity Press. If only I had a glass of milk in which to dip it.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at June 11, 2007 12:41 PM Bookmark and Share


This is really well-written. Plus it kind of makes me want to have a reason to raise a cookie, too. Maybe oatmeal raisin, though.

Comment by: Jenn at June 11, 2007 8:11 PM

Happy tenth, Dave. You've certainly been a shaping force for one-sixth of IVP's history. Without you here, the office would be far less interesting. We should do lunch sometime.

Comment by: Al Hsu at June 12, 2007 9:52 AM

Wow. Ten years, huh? I've never stayed at a job longer than two. And now I'm about to move on again. So, I salute you . . . even though you didn't plan it.

I really enjoy reading this blog because it's great and refreshing to get insight about the ins and outs of other publishing houses and how they do things. Kinda like how it feels to read Michael Hyatt's "From Where I Sit" for Thomas Nelson. Blogs are amazing things . . . especially when wielded successfully by employers. Just curious to know, if you're able to share: what helped IVP decide to ask its employees to start a blog? What were/are the expectations, of both the contributors and the outcomes?

Oh, and by the way, happy anniversary!

Comment by: Christianne at June 16, 2007 5:07 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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