I have a week and a half of class to go (and a week after that to finish the class anthology).
In that time I have to pick up my book from my printer (I owe my customer service rep at my printer a box of Roses for being so fucking awesome … note to self, buy said Roses), finish the PDF layout on one e-book, proof another e-book, complete the sixth round of proofing on a magazine, give a speech, get more print quotes, give a second speech, finish the scene breakdown of my screenplay, write a report, assist the design on another print book, get that book printed, go to school, create the EPUB version of one of those e-books, proof that e-book and the new print book, start styling copy for the layout of yet another publication, phone the person paying me to do said setting of styles on copy…
(There will be more I have forgotten.)
Oh, and eat, sleep, rest my hands, survive.
After all that, I want to go and make the e-versions of Asylum so people who want to read my book can do so without selling half their soul to Australia Post (and so that people who don’t want to or can’t read print books have choices). But. It is a print book, and I am ridiculously pleased at how well I’ve somehow managed to style the text. I’m not a graphic designer and the cover is simple, but the inside, if I say so myself, looks gorgeous. And real. Like a real fucking book. I have made a book. I can do the layout of a book.
(I’ve got friends who saved my life, and I can’t fucking wait to put that book in their hands, because that’s what they made through their kindness: people don’t make books without the people who believed in them first.)
At times I am just breaking down, and at times I just want to scream at the closest person because of all the things that are unnecessarily difficult, and at times I’d sell my soul not to send another fucking email, but at times I just love, love, love the fact that I am doing real things, real projects, that I am making text accessible (and look good) … and I know, now, that I am ready for all this, that I can do it, that I can cope, that this thing that drives me to frustration is also something I love. I love setting type. I love copy-editing. I love playing around in InDesign. I love getting a job done and diving into a project and talking to people and feeling competent and looking at that proof and going ‘Wow, that is so much less fucking terrible than I thought it would be!’. I am so glad I am doing this thing, and while I need to space it out better, while I need to work out a better balance so I can write more (I’ve written 164 000 words this semester, but only 4k in the last three weeks), while I need to never again do so many projects all at once, I am loving it. I’m loving that I’m getting to put all the classroom stuff to the test on real publications, and I’m revelling in the fact that I can handle it and that I know I can handle it and hell, I’m even actually good at it.
This is what I’m meant to do – a great, glorious tangle of novel writing here, screenplay there, a bit of copy-editing, a bit of InDesign, a bit of non-fiction. Having spent so much of my life not doing what I am meant to do, it’s amazing to hit upon the discovery that you really can survive the difficulty when what you’re doing matters. This is hard. It’s hard on my hands and hard on my anxiety. I’m doing things that fucking terrify me. But I’m doing them.
I can’t wait for school to end. Not because I want a break from all the work, precisely. (If it would slow down a little, that would be great. Then I could have more time to write fiction and edit my next short story collection.) I just want to be done with the assignments and the classes – so I can do all the rest of it and my own writing, so I can keep on going with projects, work on setting myself up as a freelancer, start thinking about how I’m going to support myself (because in-house jobs aren’t so easy to come by).
For the first time in my life, I feel like school has done what it’s supposed to do – set me up to be exactly where I am supposed to be, ready to embark on an adult career. World, I have the skills. Let me at you.
I’ve just got to survive the next fortnight-and-a-half. But I will.
And then, oh then – then I’ll have something to show for it all.
It’s hard not to smile at that.