Mo Hafeez is an Editorial Assistant at Faber & Faber, working primarily on their non-fiction and Faber Social lists. Prior to this he was a Creative Access publishing trainee at Granta Books for six months, sponsored by the Mo Siewscharran Fund, where he aided the editorial department and became a submissions reader for Granta.
You’ve been kept awake by some indescribable existential anxiety, the type of which you’re often told should be stowed away as a remnant of youthful overthinking, but in reality is likely indicative of something rather serious buried beneath the surface. The A219 buzzes with an eternal traffic that is soon to become the ambient backing to your time in the city; it’s your second day in London, and for now you call a cramped hotel room ‘home’. Three and a half paces are enough to walk from one side of your room to the other. Following a litany of interviews, train tickets, and couch surfing, you hadn’t kept in mind the tedious task of finding an actual place to stay. Don’t worry, that will come soon.
A few months ago you didn’t even know that a career in publishing was a possibility, and yet here you are. You have secured a position via a scheme that supports ethnically diverse candidates in creative industries. Each time you read a submission, each time you draft a design brief, each time you are in conversation with an author, each time you edit a chapter, each time you even so much as talk about a book, you will doubt yourself: are you really meant to be here? Imposter syndrome makes its presence known at all times. You will joke that you are a token, perfunctory, yet, if anything, the thought will motivate you all the more. You will thrive.
You will be sunk and then buoyed by the events of 2020. Life rages on outside your window, and you will, in essence, be confined to your flat. Change will bloom in the streets, in the industry, and in you – you will learn and relearn, admit lacunae in yourself, and scramble for new information. You will be submerged in time, suffocating in its opportunity. Fear not though, as, to use an oft-repeated proverb, this too shall pass. You are privileged – as much as you will hate to admit it, work delineates the days more than any other activity or hobby. You will be thankful this is something you actually enjoy, something you actually get paid for. You will catch yourself dreaming of life outside London. You will be glad to have been given Alasdair Gray’s Lanark. You will be glad to have found Hugh Masekela’s Riot. You will be glad to have finally watched Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love.
You will miss your friends. You will see them again.
Just over a year and a half from now you will still be working in publishing. You will be grateful for all the friends you have made, all the books you have read, and all that you have learned. Relax, don’t take yourself too seriously, be humble – this is just the beginning.