The Chrysler Building from our rooftop binoculars (I'm sure there is another, more proper word for those things...).

“The future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time — for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.” 

-C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters 

I have been thinking a lot about the future lately. Where I want to live, what I want to do…

When we were sitting in Dumbo Park the other day, Christian and I were talking about how weird it would be to live in a place like New York City but never have the time to walk to a park, or putz around at a museum, or go to a play. To me, the dirty subway rides and crowded streets wouldn’t be worth it unless I got to see the good parts too.

Last week, a publishing assistant came to speak to our class about her day-to-day life. While a lot of her work sounds really exciting, I am slowly learning just how much the publishing world is not 9-5. In order to eventually build her own list of clients, our speaker explained that she not only takes home whatever manuscripts the editors at her house are currently reading, she also goes to these elaborate get-to-know-you events put on by networking associations…almost like group dating events, but to help editor-hopefuls establish professional connections. I had no idea this kind of thing existed! So not only is this assistant reading hundreds of pages of client work on nights and weekends, she is also going rock climbing with a bunch of strangers a few times a month! My introverted, homebody self was squirming in my seat at this news. (Does that phrase usually imply giddiness? I think it might. But mine were uncomfortable, queasy squirms).

And so, our speaker got me thinking…not just about what kind of career I want, but mainly about how much I want to work, and what other kinds of things I would like to make room for as well (keep reading and writing!  keep crafting! plant a garden!). I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I’d fit well in a plain old 9-5 job, something to pay the bills. Maybe in a bookstore or a boutique or a café (though I’m still open to living on a farm…). Being in New York has given me big dreams, I know 🙂

Of course, I have another year of college (and the rest of my life after that…duh) to think and pray and dream about it all, so I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. Even though sometimes it feels like I am falling behind, I know that’s only fear talking. So far, I have found that living present-mindedly is a really good way to avoid missing unexpected opportunities God might give, and to remind myself that my future is not just about what I want or what I think I need (I forget that a lot, unfortunately).

C. S. Lewis reminds me that it’s enough to be grateful for my semester here in the book world, and for all the time I have been given to explore — that the future is not promised, the present is a gift, and that I would do well to keep my eyes open.

The Museum of Natural History.

The Guggenheim.

The MET.

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A Happy First

March 1, 2012

The view from my boss's office! I got to work in here one day when there was construction in the intern room.

Today at my internship, I got to recommend my first book!

When I’m not reading queries (aka the letters and samples writers send us in the hopes that our agents will represent their work) from the slush pile (aka unsolicited queries aka letters from strangers…I just love book-world jargon, don’t you?), I get to read entire manuscripts that have made it past the querie level, and then write up a reader’s report explaining why I think our agency should represent the book or pass. Then, an agent reads my report and the original manuscript (unless it’s a clear pass), and decides whether they want to represent the book or not.*

Let’s just say that not a lot of slush-pile queries make it to the manuscript stage, and not a lot of manuscripts get recommended. So, a lot of my day is spent sending rejection e-mails, which can be a downer. It’s really cool (and occasionally disturbing) to see the topics people are willing to spend years of their lives researching and writing about, and really exciting to see that there are still so many genuine and humble people out there who love to write. It’s just not so exciting to be the one who makes their day a little worse with a rejection. (Also, isn’t it crazy that a [never published] 22-year-old intern like myself has the power to reject? Of course, it’s the only way a small agency with dozens of queries a day can stay afloat, but still.)

ANYWAY, today I turned in my first reader’s report recommending our agency represent a manuscript I was in charge of reading! (I have written 7 non-recommendation reports so far). I have been reading this manuscript (a magic-realism novel) for the past few days and was so excited today when I liked the ending just as much as the beginning! Realistically, I would be surprised if the agency ultimately decided to represent this book…not because they won’t take my report into consideration, but because there are so many other factors involved, especially with this particular project. Even so, it feels great to finally do my little part in propelling someone’s dream forward.

*I actually was never clear on the whole how-a-word document-becomes-a-book process until I started applying for internships. Most authors choose to work with agents because agents have much better access to publishers than the average Joe, and will use their connections to find the best fit for a book. Of course, some people just skip finding an agent and send queries straight to a publisher (and then the interns at the publisher’s office sort through their slush pile just like I do).