My husband is an amateur historian, so I spend a lot of time thinking about medieval villages, where people participated in rigorous apprenticeships before entering into a vocation themselves. We both know, my husband and I, that the medieval period wasn’t laugh-a-minute, that people generally lived hard lives with plenty of religious festivals to break up the monotony of blacksmithing (or whatever it was you did) with a play depicting the death of some saint. But we still complain that, you know, those guys were onto something. Internships, apprenticeships, those are the way to go.
I sit here at my desk, lit not by candlelight but by six bright fluorescents, on the first day of school, someone lecturing in a classroom across the hall, much too loud, and I think about my good fortune. I’m one of the newest editorial interns at Sundress Publications, and even though I have gotten used to be being the teacher, I’m going to have an opportunity to be a learner again. I’ve always been fascinated by the publishing industry, which, as a writer, no matter how much I learn or how familiar I get with the process of submission, still seems like a mystery cult, shrouded in trade secrets and behind-the-scenes stuff. Getting my acceptance email from Jane Huffman felt like being told that I was to be inducted into the Illuminati, like looking at a medieval map and seeing “Here be dragons” and saying, yes, yes, please.
Except, of course, it isn’t. Everyone is very polite and there don’t seem to be any rituals involved in this business of publishing, at least not yet. But I am an apprentice to the trade now, it feels, and I’m already learning a lot. I was able to read an advance copy of Xochitl-Julisa Bergera’s Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge. It was beautiful and amazing and it did feel like a secret that was being whispered to me. I put together a series of questions for Xochitl-Julisa that will be used in an interview, which did feel a bit like pulling back a curtain.
My recommendation, in the twenty-first century, to all of you who are not time travelers of the medieval period, is that when you see a listing for an internship position, to reach out and grab it with both hands. You might just find yourself at Sundress Publications, like I did, sitting at your desk and feeling yourself very lucky to be learning the secrets of a beautiful, mysterious, and fascinating trade.
Kristen Figgins is a writer of fabulism, whose work has appeared in such places as Dunes Review, Zoetic Press, The Gateway Review, Puerto del Sol, Sleet Magazine, Hermeneutic Chaos, Sakura Review, and The Whale Road Review. Her story “Track Me With Your Words, Speak Me With Your Feet” was winner of the 2015 Fiction Award fromPuerto del Sol and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Micro Award, and Write Well Award. Her first chapbook, A Narrow Line of Light, is available for purchase from Boneset Books and her novella, Nesting, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications in the Summer of 2017.