"A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories:” and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation." - Jonathan Swift, "A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wake-up calls

Well, it's been a long time, but surprisingly little of note has happened since my last post. I spent hours editing an interview for a video podcast, only to be told that footage was getting scrapped in favor of a new interview. So I spent hours editing the new interview. But between marathon sessions in the editing room, I've also been commissioned by my boss to work on an independent project - a sort of crowning glory to my summer internship.

It should be noted that my internship is beyond half-way over. I've only got 2 1/2 weeks left. On the other hand, a big project is a nice change from the sundry duties with which every intern is all too familiar. I went home and came up with an idea for a series of features. My boss approved it. We decided the first step was an informational interview with one of the subjects. I made the appointment. All set.

It remains to be seen whether there'll actually be time to go further than that. But whether or not I get a chance to see this project through, the experience of submitting a proposal, developing an idea, and putting it into action will undoubtedly be an education one.

It's also made me realize just how easy it is to trudge along in a routine of small tasks without looking for anything bigger or more interesting to do. I step onto the subway train after work and forget about the computer screen I've been staring at, the cubicle I've been sitting in, and the lists of arts events or sequence of video clips I've been cramming into my brain. But I also forget to reflect on what I enjoyed during the day, what I might like to do tomorrow, and how I can make it happen. When my boss asked me to come up with a project, I found I'd sunk into a rather comfortable but unproductive rut of dutifully taking in all the learning opportunities presented to me but never actively seeking out more.

To my credit (or just to make myself feel better), I should point out that when I step off the subway train, I more often than not plunge directly into researching my thesis, applying to grad school, or cooking dinner. If only I had unlimited mental space and time to devote to making my summer the ultimate internship experience! Of course, nobody actually has that kind of time. Some people manage to cram an awful lot of creativity and productivity into whatever their working hours are, but it's just not easy to be those people, especially during summer vacation.

Luckily for me, my boss is there to remind me of what I've forgotten and push me to do bigger and better things with my time. By the time I finish these 9 weeks, I'll have written two or three articles, edited a couple of videos, gotten a look at the local arts scene, and kick-started this independent project, which hopefully will be taken up by someone else when I leave. And let's not forget all those routine little tasks, without which it just wouldn't be a proper internship.

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