It happens a lot ... someone finds out that I make my living in the media, and they ask, "So, what's it like, I mean, what's it REALLY like, you know?"
Really, it's pretty interesting. And, sometimes, it's awfully tiring. And it can have moments of great exhilaration, and moments of great sadness. It's life, really.
There are times when you find yourself struggling to maintain a reasonable flow of oxygen to your brain ... listening to county commissioners debate, over the better part of an hour, the relative merits of competing bids to supply sand and gravel.
Then there are times when you're wide awake and cranking, when the story seems to write itself, when the pages fly off your typewriter (then) or word processor (now) with a speed and sense of ease that makes you think you're no longer in control ... that your mind and your fingers are possessed.
There's a lot to the business that has no direct impact on writing words, taking pictures or laying-out pages (in print or online), but are important to your business nonetheless.
There are some books out there that capture the business very well, and I'd like to recommend one. It's a collection of short stories called, "Quaint We Ain't: A Country Editor Confesses the Hilarious Truth About Life in Small Towns."
Author J. Tom Graham has drawn from his real-life experiences as a Texas country newspaper man to write the book. Comparing it to my own experiences editing a small-town weekly in West Texas, I have to say, "he's nailed it." And, it is a very funny book, thanks in part to Graham's skills at writing and storytelling, and in even greater part to the people he meets, and the experiences they share.
The emphasis of Graham's book is definitely upon small towns. Anyone with media experience large AND small will tell you they can be two entirely different critters ... as a matter of fact, that might make for a good post or two later.
Pick up a copy, some time. It will answer, far better than I could, the question, "So, what's it like?"