More tertiary education stories today. Phew, I had the most frantic morning. The editor only called them in at about 8 pm last night, and offered me the job as a sort of physical challenge. The type that seems to get people voted off islands these days.
“I need these by midday tomorrow. Can you do it?”
“Midday? Do I need to do any interviews?”
“At least one. Maybe two.”
“Before twelve o’clock?”
“You heard me. Can you do it or not?”
I took a big breath.
“Sure, of course, absolutely.”
I’m pretty sure he hung up before I could change my mind.
So this morning I sat at the desk waiting until a decent hour to call the PR person. I got to 8:30 and thought, ‘I have to talk to you now, right now, or this whole job is in jeopardy.’ Luckily she answered; she sounded a little cool and I don’t blame her, I probably interrupted her Vegemite toast (and if you ask me everyone’s got a right to eat breakfast in peace and quiet). But time was slipping away and I didn’t have a moment to lose. I think she choked on toast crumbs when I said I needed two interview subjects basically in the next five minutes, but boy, what a champion, she rallied pronto. If I had her on a stopwatch, I think we’d be looking at a new world record.
My first interview was in the can by 9:10 am (how much do I love 1300RECORD? Let me count the ways), and I was manically transcribing it when the PR Princess beat her personal best by dishing up #2 seconds later. My heart swelled with love and gratitude – maybe, just maybe, I’d make it. The interview was set for 10 am.
Between 10:10 and 11:15 am, I wrote the first 600 word article and sent it on ahead. Between 11:15 and 12:10 pm, I transcribed the second interview and wrote the second piece. I can be a pretty efficient freak when circumstances demand it, but frankly, even I was impressed. Sweating, mind whirring, fingers racing across the keyboard, I was down to the wire, but the second 600 word piece was blinking in my editor’s Inbox at ten minutes past the hour. Not bad. He then disappeared into a black hole of deadlines and I am STILL waiting for that phone call or email, you know the one, that fantasy response, the one in which an ecstatic, grateful crowd carries me to the medal dais, gently swaying to the Rocky theme song as they reach out to touch me as I pass. They’re chanting, “Midday! Midday! You got them in by midday!” and I have to quiet the crowd so we can all hear the sound of my editor falling on his knees before me. God I love that sequence. But I’ve been stalking him all afternoon, and I can’t even get him to tell me where and when the damn things are running. They just use you up and spit you out! But don’t you worry, I emailed the PR Princess straight after filing and I said, “We did it! You were awesome this morning, thank you.” I think we call that a dead heat.
In other news, I had my follow-up consultation with Varuna this afternoon just after I’d caught my breath. This was after the shortlist placing in the Publisher Fellowships; I signed up for the half hour chat as soon as the lines opened. It occurred to me I should record the conversation for my future benefit (I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times…), and with C’s kind permission – she was one of three on the judging panel – that’s just what I did. Well, I can only stress how worthwhile it was. C had some excellent constructive criticisms, although at all times she was careful to emphasise that she knows it’s still very much a work in progress (I’ll say! I’ve barely started! I hardly know these people!), and that therefore everything we discussed today will change. True. Be that as it may, she pinpointed a thematic thread that immediately went tearing through my mind, ripping off dust covers, throwing open shutters, and shaking out mouldy mats. *Cough.* Yes, I thought. That’s it. Such a simple moment, but so profound. And I guess that jolt of recognition encourages me to continue, to finish what I’ve only just begun. It was such a useful conversation. Having someone else say back to you of their own accord exactly what you think your story is about – well, it was a rush. It all rushed in, jamming that mental opening until I felt my whole brain was clean off its hinges. But you know, that’s better than okay… I’ve always preferred an open door policy. And now I really feel like I am ready to go back to work. MS #2, you and I are about to get busy.