Breaking into the publishing world is not fun. From any standpoint. Whether you want to be a writer, an agent, an editor, or whatever else. Possibly the only easy way into publishing is gaining employment in a basement mailroom. But seeing as I’ve already done the mail-sorting thing, I figured that I’d try another route into this whole shebang: an Internship.
It’s been years since I penned my first story for my undergraduate degree, a five-pager written for my “Intro to Creative Writing” course. For the most part, I hated that class. However, it was the first time I realized how much I enjoyed writing—no, not enjoyed, but loved writing. Ever since I was in Kindergarten—where I’d dictate the story to my teacher, who then let me create the illustrations—I’ve written off and on, always enjoying myself but never really having aspirations to be a Writer. That all changed in my intro course, when I realized how much I wanted to tell stories. I haven’t looked back since.
Sure, I’ve questioned my purpose or if I’ve chosen the right path. I mean, what writer doesn’t feel like they’re just wasting their time when the rejection letters start rolling in, especially the impersonalized form rejections? But I keep on, simply because of my love.
It’s led me through some highs and lows, everything from publishing short stories to hearing “No thank you” after “No thank you” in regards to my master’s thesis novel. And, honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if my writing aspirations aren’t a key factor with my building anxiety issues. Still, I knew things would get better. And they have, on multiple levels.
First and foremost, I met my amazing writing counterpart, Holly Cagney, with whom I’ve now written one completed manuscript and am on the verge of finishing a first draft of our second novel. It’s been ridiculously fun writing with her and rekindles my love for the written word every time it’s my turn to write the next section of our novels.
Next, I realized how much I not only enjoy writing, but how much I enjoy editing. I’m not talking about my own work. Fuck no. I hate revision. It’s a necessary evil to writing, but I’d much rather be like Cynthia Ozick and say that when a story or novel is finished, it’s finished, no questions. But working on others’ material? I heart it almost as much as writing itself. This realization led me on a quest to figure out what it would take to become an editor in this overcomplicated publishing world. Everything direction I found pointed to an internship.
So I poked around the internets, trying my best to track down any literary internship. Problem was, the majority of them all want you to be able to work in house—complete with fetching coffee, sorting files, and answering phones. I’ve done that as an editorial assistant—and got paid for it. I wasn’t about to do such a thing for free. Besides, I can’t, seeing as I’m not living in one location long enough to cover a full stint of an internship. Worse still, the few satellite internships I found had just passed their deadlines. But I still discovered two to apply to.
Any of you job hunters out there know that these odds blow.
For once, though, the writing world wasn’t going to simply ignore me or raise my hopes only to shat them back out on me with an oh-so-courteous, “Thank you for letting us consider your work. Unfortunately…”
One of those two emailed me back. One of those two exchanged a couple more emails with me. One of those two scheduled a phone interview, whereupon a sixth-month internship was offered.
Now, I’m interning for the Andrea Hurst & AssociatesLiterary Management. Through them, I’ve been working with both Andrea and Margaret Bail (an extremely wonderful person, by the by), helping assess manuscripts, trolling through the slushpile, and will be able to see the rest of the “back end” of the publishing process. I couldn’t be happier.
It may seem weird to some to become an intern in your post-graduate life, working for free for the next sixth months, but when you’re deadest on accomplishing one of your lifelong goals, a step like this feels pretty fucking fantabulous. So go ahead, call me a 30-year-old intern because it’s exactly where I want to be—side-stepping my way into the publishing world.