It’ s been a while (about two years in fact) since I’ve had time to sit down and write a blog post – book recs have been tricky enough! The last six months in particular have been really quite intense, and I’m extremely glad I had a block of time booked off over Christmas to try and catch my breath.
Back in October, I celebrated my two-year anniversary at Gollancz, and then on the 1st November, I officially got promoted to Assistant Editor! I’ll be honest, I’ve still been slightly in a daze that I was working at Gollancz in the first place, so to find myself promoted has sent me a little giddy. It’s my first ever promotion! My previous job at a University didn’t offer promotions – if you wanted to move up, you had to just apply for a new job – so it has been simultaneously surreal and affirming.
This has been a wonderful, fulfilling experience. I’ve never before had a job where I felt so completely in tune with my work and my colleagues, nor one where I have been excited to go in, to get on with the work, so consistently. I love what I am doing, and I take a lot of pride in it, and I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m doing, even when I’m not at work.
Now, however, seems like a good time to reflect on where I want to grow and take stock of what the next two (five, ten) years might hold.
Goal 1: Build my confidence
I am already so much more confident than I have been in many years – the same spark of “this is my place!” that I found while on my MA has really caught hold, and I am lucky to be supported and guided by the people around me. A lot of this will come with practice – identifying opportunities and titles, confidence in my taste and experience, and then not being afraid of negotiations. I’ve been making the most of training available through work for this, and it’s been valuable, but to a point my brain struggles in pretend situations to really connect that to real life. I think getting a sense of general expectations and being able to pitch things appropriately – and not worrying I’ve offended someone if I haven’t! – will come more easily, the more I do it.
The best advice I got in my training was not to see negotiations as adversarial situations, but rather collaborative. We both want to get to an agreement, we both want to leave smiling – it’s not a brawl, but a problem-solving exercise. And if I don’t come out successful, what have I lost? Time. No money is thrown away, no-one is hurt. These aren’t life or death situations, and I think I will get better at feeling out the shape of them as I grow into an editor.
Goal 2: Practice my priorities
The thing about being in an editorial role – particularly one where I’m now commissioning – is that reading has become part of my job description. Perversely, because it’s something I love and enjoy, it doesn’t feel like work but rather something I’m bunking off work to do. This of course is not helped by the fact that other work (that somehow, in my head, I still think of as “real” work) is still there while I’m reading, waiting to be done. That’s the nature of the beast, the first few promotions just bring on more responsibilities alongside what you were already doing. Should that be the nature of the beast? That’s a discussion which has been ongoing for a while and doesn’t seem set to have an answer any time soon. I don’t think anyone is denying that everyone is overworked, and stretched thin.
What I need to do is make sure I’m doing what I can do the best of my ability, and that involves getting better at structuring my priorities and scheduling, but also protecting myself from trying to cram too much work into too short a time – or working when I shouldn’t be. I am only one person, there are only so many hours in the day. And I’m supposed to be reading for some of them!
Goal 3: Avoid burnout with boundaries
Which leads nicely into my final goal. Like I said above, I love this job, so much so that I’m thinking about it even when I’m off. And perhaps working when I shouldn’t be – checking emails out of hours, working late, pitching in on holidays. Switching off has become trickier than in previous roles I’ve had. I feel trusted, like I have more responsibility and room to grow, but at the same time I don’t want to let anyone down and I feel like I need to live up to very high standards.
I was diagnosed with ADHD last summer, which I feel probably explains some of this. Perfectionism and Imposter Syndrome are the twin wolves battling inside many people with ADHD, and I’m no different. I want to do well, but my faith in myself is rock bottom a lot of the time (although increasingly less so the longer I’m where I am now), and there’s always that niggle akin to “oh no, I’ve forgotten to do my homework” that can stop me from settling. Add to that the delight of hyperfocus because I’m working on something I’m engaged with, then calling it a day can be tricky.
I’ve been making it a point to take up new hobbies that aren’t reading. During lockdown I bought some rollerblades, and earlier this year I started learning to sew (I’ve made two dresses, a skirt, and started making book bags which I have set up an Etsy store for). My to-do list for work takes the form of a bullet journal, so I can play with drawing more too. I’m trying to make space.
Another thing which has loomed over me a bit is the fate of this blog. I am very proud of it and I want to keep it going, but realistically most of my reading now is for work purposes, which makes content tricky. Aside from also finding the actual time to write reviews (see goal 3). I think updates will continue to be sporadic, but I also wonder if I will finally expand into film and TV reviews, as I originally planned back in the inception stages.
Who knows? 2023 has a lot in store!