‘Where are you heading?’ I ask the Nymph. It’s in the middle of the afternoon. Peirene is standing at the front door, wearing coat and hat, and a suitcase in hand.
‘I’m leaving the country.’ She opens the door. I roll my eyes. After all, it’s not the first time that she is leaving the country. ‘What’s the problem now?,’ I enquire and put as much empathy in my voice as possible.
For a moment Peirene hesitates, then she turns around with tears in her eyes and trembling lips. ‘I’m a creative spirit and you stifle me.’
With a sigh I sit down at the bottom of the stairs and listen to her complaints.
‘You insist that I log every single book we sell. Each month you make me fill out cash flow charts. Every day I have to update our subscriber spreadsheet and stuff envelopes and rush to the post office. And worst of all, you are forcing me to respond to emails as quickly and efficiently as possible. So many days go by without achieving anything else. I can’t stand it any longer. I am a highly skilled Nymph with creative powers that should be harnessed to a greater cause.’
She stops and takes a deep breath. I look at her.
‘Are you finished?’
‘Not quite.’ She shakes her head. ‘Worst of all: your attitude.’
‘My attitude.’ I respond with disbelief – but she’s got a point.
My mood hasn’t been great. The admin side of publishing can be overwhelming. My gaze falls onto the big pile of unopened post in the hallway. As I avert my eye, I hear the phone ring in the office. I ask Peirene to wait and rush upstairs. It’s Maddy. She is working from home today writing a couple of funding applications. She needs to know revenue by book for the 2012 tax year. I open our spreadsheet, a few clicks and I give her the numbers.
‘That was impressive.’ Peirene has followed me into the office. I smile at her. ‘Well this is exactly why we have to do these tedious admin jobs. Ultimately they help us run the business efficiently and give us more time to discover new books.’ I pause. Then I ask: ‘Will you stay?’
For a few seconds she pretends to reflect. ‘OK.’ She puts down the suitcase and takes off her hat. ‘Under one condition though: you deal with this big pile of post, not me.’