everything's alright, yes

When I was in high school, I worked on the yearbook. Junior year, my best friend Michelle and I were editors of the vo-tech section, which meant that we took a few day trips with our cooler-than-cool photographer George and took pictures of a world we never got to see—students our own age fixing cars, cobbling circuit boards into radios, and cutting hair. For me it was a little humbling. At the time I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but here were people my own age already planning to make money after graduation. I’d be putting that off for what I thought would be four years (and what turned out to be six). 

you can’t see it, but the table has got about five hundred paper clips in chains.Senior year Michelle and I were the editors of the whole book. Photos taken of us during that time show people bouncing off each other in the aisles between desks of Mr. Pergola’s classroom, someone (ahem, surely not me) using a photo cropper as a gun, more than a few mad, crazy smiles, and chains of paper clips long enough to stretch across a hallway and trip unsuspecting freshmen. It was 1991; the hair was big, senioritis had set in, and it was our book. All the deadlines came down to us. It was our advisor’s first year handling the yearbook, and so we knew more about the process than he did. I look at that book now and I can see the mistakes that would have been printer’s errors when I worked in book production as an adult. But when I look at it with my seventeen-year-old eyes, which I carry around with me in case of emergency jadedness, I feel nothing but pride. That group of twenty kids did this, in years before computers, with deadlines and a budget and forged hall passes. And maybe you could make money doing this, cropping pictures and making sure all the page numbers were where they were supposed to be. (Even though in my plans for the future in that very book, I claimed all I had scheduled was to stick a grape in my ear and let my head ferment.)

This past week was down to the wire time again, this time as part of the staff of my chapter newsletter. When I realized that what I was writing wasn’t romance, I made the decision to let my RWA membership expire. About a month before that happened, I got an email saying that a new online chapter was forming, one for women’s fiction that didn’t revolve around the romance storyline, so I renewed one.last.time. Almost a year after that decision, I’m now part of an amazing network of women, especially on the newsletter staff. Today, bouncing back emails with corrections and tweaking a last-minute bit of code in a few links, I was knocked back to that time, the breathless sense of deadline looming, the crunch. You feel a kind of awe for the people you work with, who make it go. I remembered days at the typesetter, when I stayed until late, knowing FedEx was on its way for the pages I was still finishing, and the production scheduler stayed with me, stamping pages, singing softly by my side.

 try not to get worried
try not to turn on to
problems that upset you
oh, don’t you know
everything’s alright, yes
everything’s fine

You don’t think it at the time. You think it’s awful and a pain in the ass and not worth it at all. But it is; the product is what matters. It’s harder to feel that when you’re doing all your work at a computer and your deadline partners are scattered across the globe, but it’s there. I swear it. And everything really is all right. Everything’s fine.