Reflections on 2020: an intern’s perspective
As I sit down to write a reflection on my time at Modjaji, I find myself writing and rewriting this opening line, trying to find the words that reflect how much I have loved my year here. It’s a bittersweet experience. I will be sad to say goodbye to the work, the books, and Colleen’s animals who keep me company whenever I go in to work. Most of all it will be hard to say goodbye to Colleen, who has taught me so much in her straightforward way.
My time at Modjaji began somewhat inauspiciously: I was slightly late to my interview and then had to confess that I owned no Modjaji titles. Luckily for me, Colleen took me on despite this. After three months of work, the country was plunged into lockdown, and work had to continue from home. Launches and seminars went online and the industry had to reconfigure itself as books languished in the pipeline.
Working from home hasn’t been difficult for me, mostly due to Colleen’s ability to stay in close contact via WhatsApp. (I also give credit to the large amount of caffeine I consume.) I’ve learned a lot over the months of lockdown, more than I think I would have learned if I had interned at a larger publisher. The size of Modjaji’s setup means I was able to have a hand in many projects, from proofreading to correspondence with authors to organizing launches. I’ve learned to manage my time, coordinate projects, and use platforms such as WordPress, MailChimp, and Zoom. I have also renewed my love of books by being involved in their development. The behind-the-scenes work of bringing a book to publication has been fascinating.
I expected to like my job – I love books, after all. I didn’t expect to love it. Every day at Modjaji brings a new experience, something to figure out. I was also surprised by how much I enjoy the real nitty-gritty of publishing: the proofreading, the back-and-forth conversations with authors, the elation when a book lands rave reviews. I’ll miss it.
In 2021 I will be completing an Honours degree in History at the University of Cape Town. I plan to follow this with a Masters degree and then go back out into the world of publishing. I will always be grateful for my time at Modjaji and especially to Colleen for her guidance, patient teaching, and trust that I would figure things out.