On being an editorial intern

Well, the fresh-faced (okay, I’m 46 but heck) intern that rocked up to the Overland office way back in January of this year has done her dues and the internship is over; so even though I’m staying involved, I thought I’d take a little space to reflect on my observations and share my intern widsomosity*.

1. If travelling by train(s), always wear a scarf because Southern Cross station is freezing, even in February.
2. It’s a very long way from Warburton to Footscray, though apparently they are both in the same state (ie: Victoria).
3. If you decide to drive from Warburton to Footscray, make sure you have the relevant pages of your Melway. Perhaps it’s time for a GPS.
4. If you get excited about the project to interview writers from the magazine, do not let your enthusiasm blind you to the fact that you have no budget or experience and access only to rudimentary and limited technology.
5. On second thoughts: carry on.


6. Loading a document into the blog technology takes longer than you think. Much longer. It is also stupidly temperamental (but don’t tell it I said so).
7. Regarding said blog, beware: youtube videos do not necessarily remain where you left them.
8. Just like in any family situation, your opinion is valuable, so keep it to yourself. No, I mean DON’T keep it to yourself. No, wait…
9. It is always a good idea to find out what you are saying yes or no to. On second thoughts: carry on.
10. Don’t annoy the writers, more than you can help it.
11. Read the salient article and do some research BEFORE requesting an interview. People can be quicker to respond than you think.
12. Poets can be an interesting and diverse crew, to say the least.
13. Fact checking and referencing is thrilling and rewarding work, especially since the advent of the internet (because every sentence can now be connected somewhere). Get plenty of sleep before embarking on this kind of copyediting.
14. Copyediting can be fun. No, wait…
15. There is something to be said for decision-making.
16. General good will and heart bring warmth to an office that the heating never will.
17. Good and worthy people care about pedantic questions of tense or expression – you are not alone (or annoying).
18. There is a big difference between doing something freely and doing something for free; it is genuinely rewarding to be part of something purposeful that is bigger than yourself.
19. An internship is like a pirate ship: dangerous, adventurous and possibly immoral, but the bounty is absolute treasure and the costumes are great fun.

My advice to the incoming intern …

1. If in doubt, ask Alex.

Thank you Overland.

*Yep, I’ve been reading a little Louise Rennison.

Clare Strahan

Clare Strahan is a two-time novelist with Allen & Unwin publishers, long-ago contributing editor to Overland, and teaches in the RMIT Professional Writing & Editing Associate Degree.

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