My working life over the past year has been anything but simple. Creative, perhaps—especially in terms of scheduling. But simple? Absolutely not. When someone asks the dreaded question about what I do, I usually feel as if I’m being sucked into a vortex in which my mind races backwards over everything I’ve actually done in the previous week or so. Gleanings from that vortex vary drastically depending on the week, but may look something like this: blog posts, incoming mail, outgoing mail, email, phone, database, website, blog posts, other website, slow web, write something, footnotes, footnotes, nap, footnotes, bibliography, transliteration, tired, footnotes. Hmm.
Needless to say, I generally return from this cloud of confusion with nothing very satisfying to offer my interlocutor and instead respond with a question mark in my voice: “Publishing? Books, usually? Also, the internet?”
My journey into the working world began last year at this time when, armed with two consecutive diplomas, I strode with equal parts excitement and bewilderment out of the university gates and into the employment-seeking wilderness. The intervening months between then and now have been marked by a few shining moments of serendipity, a smattering of deep disappointments, and an unfailing stream of worry, fear, and self-doubt. If I could offer my one-year-ago self any advice, I would tell her to spend more time doing things and less time worrying about doing them. I would also tell her to stop submitting resumes to automated robots, start meeting real people, and just make something happen. She might have listened, though not without eyeing me suspiciously and worrying that my advice was completely biased and autobiographically motivated.
Since beginning this column last summer, I have wandered through the desert of too little work and the valley of too much. I have wondered about fostering creativity in work and play, and I have worried all the while about finding direction. I have managed an ever-evolving concoction of part-time and freelance work. I have copyedited books, written an essay, and helped make something happen.
In just a couple of weeks, my hazy vortex of work will crystallize into something a little more recognizable: a full-time job in book publishing (without the question mark). While the internet seems increasingly flooded with glamorous entrepreneurs and mysterious freelancers, I am trying to muster up some confidence as I march in the other direction—toward a lovely office with an finicky copy machine, Dunder Mifflin paper, friendly faces, and what seems remarkably like a 9-to-5 schedule.
I can think of a whole new set of questions to worry about (for example, what exactly does one do with an entire weekend?), but let’s leave those aside for now and get to work on making things happen, shall we?