Friday, June 15, 2012

Thoughts from Places: Basically the Best Job Ever

Every Wednesday and Thursday since I've gotten back from London, my alarm has gone off at 7:30 am, and for a few minutes I have cowered in the warmth and comfort and dark of my bed, not really wanting to get up, because it's summertime and it's 7:30. But, nevertheless, I get up, grab some tea, get dressed, and head out to catch the 8:50 bus into New York City.

I live somewhere between half an hour and an hour and fifteen minutes away from the city, depending upon the level of traffic and the mode of transportation - the bus takes longer, because it has to pick people up. (Also, my parents dispute this, but I SWEAR we got into the city by car in half an hour.) The bus ride is usually about an hour. Sometimes I am a good person and I do some writing on the commute - because of this the handwriting in my notebook has gotten hilariously poor in the last few entries - but a lot of the time I muse over things to write or things to do instead, or simply stare out the window (or, in the case of yesterday, take a nap). I then get in to the Port Authority, a place I've decided that I have a love-hate relationship with. I love the fact that it is so easy for me to commute into the city, even though bus tickets are rather expensive. I love that it's rather centrally located and that I can walk to my internship. However, I hate the massive lines of commuters on my way home, and I hate that they put the Cinnabon right by the entrance and exit for my bus. (OH THE SMELL OF GOOEY CINNAMONY DELICIOUSNESS. HOW YOU TORTURE ME SO.)

In any case, I hurry past the Cinnabon and then start my ten-block walk down Seventh Avenue to my internship-of-awesome. I am greeted by the very friendly doorman (who finally told me his name yesterday and I am now horrified to discover that I have forgotten. Gosh, for a writer I am truly terrible at remembering people's names) and wait for the slow, cranky elevator in a lobby that is small, but must have a twelve-foot ceiling complete with painted and gilded rosettes (my own slice of London historic decoration in New York, perhaps?). But the elevator finally takes me to the twentieth floor, where I slide into an office that is much more modern looking than the lobby's ceiling might suggest.

There are three literary agencies sharing this office, which means that there are a lot of people who really love books all in one room. It also means that, unlike my internship in London, I am not the only intern! There is always one other intern working with me from my literary agency, and at least one other from one of the other agencies (sometimes I'm not really sure which one). Oftentimes there are four interns crowded around the "intern table," the table used for conferences (in which case we are relocated to abandoned offices) that sits between the door and the coffee maker. I try and sit in the chair on the short end of the table closest to the door, because that way, I can still mostly read my computer screen when the sun comes blaring into our window at about four in the afternoon. It is very nice to take a break from queries and look out over the tops of buildings to the little hint of the Hudson River I can see through the roofs, but it is rather difficult to read in such bright sunlight. (Some of the other interns bring their sunglasses for this purpose. It is kind of awesome and hilarious.)

After I arrive, I spend the next seven and a half hours reading. I read queries, I read submitted manuscripts. Reading the slush pile is actually kind of fun - there are of course a great many completely out-there queries, which make me somewhere between amused and sad, and lots that really don't have anything "wrong" with them, they're just not thrilling, which does make me feel badly (because boy have I been in that writer's shoes). There are also occasionally those shining gems of OMG WOW REQUEST THIS IMMEDIATELY, which are great. Those are the ones I get excited about, that I remember when I get home and my mom asks me what I did that day. There was one that had spot-on historical voice the other day, and I was practically flailing in my chair as I urged the agent I work for to request it.

Reading manuscripts is also basically the best thing ever. Let me remind you: I read ALL DAY LONG, and it is my JOB to do so. WINNING. I do read a lot of romance novels, since this agency represents a lot of romance writers; they might not be specifically my cup of tea, but they're by no means hateful, and I do get to tell people that I read romance novels for work, which is just fun. I really enjoy reading the manuscripts and making comments along the way. I like writing up little "edit letters" at the end of things I liked and things I'd fix (and sometimes how I'd fix them, which is really exciting). 

I also have fun with my fellow interns. They're a bunch of lovely ladies (everyone who works in this office, by the way, is female. Why am I getting the sense that the publishing industry and theatre are not all that different? :P ). Fellow-intern Ari and I frequently chuckle over malapropisms and queries that have appeared on Slush Pile Hell, discuss the weirdness of reading queries at the same time we're sending out our own, and geek out over Nerdfighteria.

But then it's six pm and it's time for me to hurry through the busy streets* and brave the long lines at Port Authority and possibly a standing-room-only bus so that I can head home for the day. And excitedly tell my family about that awesome query letter that I read.


*You think I'd be used to crowds after living in a big city for almost five months. I think that London holds some ridiculously high percentage of England's population, but honestly, you wouldn't know it unless you were on Bond Street, in Piccadilly Circus, or on the Tube at rush hour. Whereas New York (especially at rush hour) is like being in Piccadilly Circus all the time. So many people!!


  1. Yay Thoughts from Places! Yay Slushpile Hell! Yay awesome queries! Yay interns! Yay Caitlin!


    1. Whoo! :D Thanks! I love Thoughts from Places, but I am rather rubbish at videos... so, word-format it is!

  2. Sounds like you're having a great time! I'd love to intern, but I don't think I could handle the hustle 'n bustle of New York.

    1. The crowds really aren't too bad; there are a lot of people, mind, but unless you're in Times Square, they're moving crowds. People don't stand around in clumps and block the sidewalk, because everyone always has somewhere to be. So that's nice.

      I think some agents also advertise for interns who can work remotely? I know I've applied to at least one job like that in the past.

  3. Yay for living the dream!! :D And I'm so glad the other interns are nice, normal people! The Australian publishing industry must be filled with whackos or something, because I've heard some horror stories about competitive interns :S Silly interns.

    I live in Melbourne, which is Australia's version of NYC, I guess, and I can't imagine what it's like having so many people around you ALL THE TIME. Crazay. But I hear you never have to walk far to get to McDonald's, so ...that's a plus...? :)

    1. The other interns are lovely! I don't know, I suspect there are some cutthroat interns out there, but I don't seem to work with any of them. :)

      Hmm. I actually think I was closer to McDonald's when I lived in London (we had one just down the street). We do have lots of food around, though; still haven't figured out where the best place for an inexpensive lunch is. (The answer is probably "not on Seventh Avenue," haha.)

  4. It’s definitely enjoyable to read, but to read for a living is totally awesome! It's like hitting two birds with one stone. You must be very happy with your internship. Just keep up the good work and they might just retain you as one of their regular employees. Hope you’ll share the good news here! :)