Burning Trees and Building Bridges

Burning Trees and Building Bridges

office in londonAt around nine thirty every morning I walk into the upstairs office of the company and plop down in my chair at my desk situated right next to my supervisor’s, the senior editor. The majority of days I have been there I have worked on an ongoing project focusing on converting hard copy books currently out of print into a type of e-book format on their upcoming website. The books are mainly encyclopedias and what I have worked on primarily focuses on music and musicians in general. The idea is to turn certain parts of each book, such as specific chapters in books discussing a singular artist or sections discoursing particular decades of music in more wide range works, into their own individual articles. That way when you search the subject on the website it will bring you to a coherent and independent piece that can stand on its own without connections to the book. That make sense? You awake? It’ll be much more interesting than I make it sound, I promise.
As someone more interested in creative writing I sadly don’t get to contribute any part of my imagination to this as the text already, well, exists. We’re just moving it from paper to a computer screen. My job here is to format. I work on a program called Quark because apparently it’s more reliable than Microsoft Word with all its ‘tricksy habits’ (that is seriously what the boss man called them). I won’t comment on that. I mostly focus on changing headings and the style of album and film names to italics…and that is exactly as boring as it sounds.

A few times while working on this I’ll be asked to stop and help my supervisor with proofreading. The company also publishes notebooks and diaries and a current line they are running have themes. One concentrates on music, another art, another fashion and another on cooking. On a lot of the pages are guidelines for the writer. For instance the one dealing with music will have on its lines categories like ‘Favorite Tracks’ ‘Lyrics’ ‘Music that Inspires Me’ and such. On the borders of each template will be little quotes relating to topic at hand. They will usually be by known celebrities or individuals involved in each specific fields, i.e. painters, composers, chefs and designers, me…no? Fine.

My task with this project is to…well proofread. I mostly need to look out for things like missing punctuation marks and misspellings of the sources’ names. I also need to look out for Americanisms and uh, British…isms. These books are supposed to be Transatlantic, so they need to work on both sides of the pond. Words like flavor/flavour, color/colour, favorite/ favourite-things like that. One funny situation we ran into was with one of tips that some of these books give that used the word pants, or to them, trousers. They’re not interchangeable because here pants mean underwear and trousers sound funny to us. We settled for waistband since the tip being given focused on discusses how to deal with shrinking pants…trousers. Whatever.

Another project I got to work on involved the calendars that my company publishes. I looked up dates for holidays from various countries just to confirm when they would be in 2018. After searching for the holiday on multiple websites for extra verification I would print out pages from two of these sites and place them in that country’s section in a folder. Yeah, also kind of a slog. But these tasks are only boring due to the repetition of them, not because they serve me no purpose. As someone pursuing a degree in English whose interest lies solely in writing I know I will need an actual day job to support me until I become the next J.K. Rowling. Since writing and dealing with the English language are pretty much the only talents I have my aim is to pursue that job in something like a newspaper or magazine. This internship provides me with exactly what I need to know how to do to land a position in those areas as every job I have worked until now has been in retail or warehousing and thus not impressive on a resume to these places.

What I’ve learned in school has helped me as well. When completing essays we are required to submit them in APA (American Psychological Association) format. This means having to go in and change the margins, fonts, headings and style. While a lot of the functions require different keys and combinations to access them, they still work much the same so after learning which buttons do what, it is fairly easy to get my head around. Uh, for now anyway. I’m still getting around the learning curve there’s still time for me to regret saying that.
Learning how to properly edit and format as well as proofread (as in using those proofreading marks that make me feel like I’m writing in hieroglyphics) will absolutely be useful to me in future ventures in the writing field, no matter what the actual industry may be.

I think the most important project to me on a personal level though is the reading. That I haven’t done yet. The publication is currently taking submissions for fiction stories with various themes, including fantasy, horror, steam punk, dystopian fiction and such. These are my genres. So assuming the company’s laptop that I’ve been using gets the Internet to work properly for more than half a minute, I’ll be able to access those submissions. And I’ll be part of the process of approving stories for publication. I’ll get to learn what elements of the stories are appreciated and what are avoided. So maybe the next time I submit my own manuscript to a publication I’ll have a marginal chance of not getting rejected. Maybe. Maybe I’ll submit something under a pseudonym to this one just to hear the thoughts on it. That’ll be a learning experience.

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