As a result, I'm pleased that Dianna L. Gunn proposed writing up two posts on internships (the other is due out in the beginning of March) for the Not Bob blog. If you're not familiar with her already, Gunn is a young writer, student, blogger, and intern. She writes primarily fantasy--both short and long--and she blogs in the hopes of helping other writers along the same journey on her site, http://diannaswritingden.com/. She can usually be found hiding somewhere in the west end of Toronto with a big mug of chocolate milk and an endless list of intern duties.
|Dianna L. Gunn on a bridge. Photo credit: Alex Kennedy.|
After reading the title of this post, you might be wondering what an intern is. Interns—at least in most creative fields of work—are the unpaid grunts who make coffee for the creative geniuses, give them occasional feedback on their ideas, photocopy their scripts and generally do their dirty work. Rather than getting paid, they offer all these services for the ability to work with said creative geniuses and to get their foot in the door of a competitive industry.
You might, of course, be thinking that all these intern folks are crazy. After all, why would anybody want to run around making someone else's coffee and photocopies for free?
Well, I've been an intern for Musa Publishing since late September, and I've been working on our eMagazine Penumbra since late October. Of course, I'd love to get paid, but I've found interning with Musa to be one of the most educational experiences of my young lifetime and, quite frankly, to be a lot of fun. It's all online so I don't make anyone's coffee—probably a good thing because I don't drink it and I imagine if I made it it would taste awful—and I've learned so much.
What are some of the great things I've learned or experienced since I became an intern for Musa?
First off, I've learned a lot about how publishing works. A lot of the things I've encountered—long speeches in our e-mail group about respecting editors, for example—are things I kind of knew in theory but am now directly learning from the wonderful Musa staff. When I was just starting out, I read a couple of submitted novels. I learned that they really aren't lying when they talk about those beautiful stories just riddled with basic errors or about the stories that sound too much like everything else on the market.
Since I've been working specifically on Penumbra, I've learned a lot about what it takes to make a magazine run. I've had the privilege to read many amazing stories in our final rounds of publication, and I've seen first hand what it takes to get into a speculative fiction magazine—because no matter how different our magazine is from the norm, I assure you that our Editorial Director, Celina, demands excellence in everything we do.
Almost more important than the things I've actually learned are the friends I've made and relationships I've formed. Since joining up with Musa, I've had the opportunity to meet and interview over a dozen great authors, most of them on my blog and a couple for Penumbra itself. I've had a lot of fun interviewing them and I've made a few friends along the way. One of Musa's authors has even offered to read and give me an opinion on the next draft of my Novel of a Thousand Drafts.
The Musa team is really something special. My internship is based solely online, but I still feel like these people are my family. It's been great working with and getting to know our ED, our marketing director, and all the other interns.
So why should writers consider internships in the publishing industry?
Because it's a learning experience. Because you can make great friends who love the same things you do. Most importantly, because an internship is a great way to start or build your writing career—after all, a writer can never know too much about the publishing industry or have too many friends in it.
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Check out previous Not Bob posts for writers: