“What time is it?”
I sucked in a breath and turned to the faces in the room, ashen and exhausted, sporting early formations of dark circles. Our advisor, Sara Vigneri, was slumped on the red couch, having come straight from a family function. Our copy editor Tara had already left at 3:00 a.m. Matt and I were switching between pacing the floor in silence and sitting in the layout room, him much more outwardly calm than me. And stone-faced and gritting her teeth in the light from the Mac was Emily Drake, layout editor, who had spent the day designing every section plus an insert and training Ji, assistant layout editor. It was the first production of the year and we were already up far later than our predecessors, far later than I had ever been in my three years on the staff – and Emily had an eight a.m. in the morning.
Despite the hour, I was completely awake, in a white and staticy panic, my mind racing with everything I’d need to do differently next week but having nothing to offer to get us out of the situation now. I felt helpless.
After finally biting the bullet at 2:00 a.m. we dropped the freshman survival guide that I’d talked up with any administrator in favor of finishing layout on the rest of the paper- a decision made far too late to save anyone’s night. Everyone was silent, clearly disappointed but not gating the process. We – finally stumbled out of the office blurry eyed at 5:00 a.m.
After hiding out all of Wednesday heavy with defeat, I walked into the office on Thursday to meet my late-night crew once again and to face the inevitable- I’d failed. Now what?
I walked into the office on Thursday to meet my late-night crew once again and to face the inevitable- I’d failed. Now what?
Expecting demands of apologies or explanations, I instead found us sharing our struggles to stay awake the next day, and laughing at Matt’s ability to go through a 6:00 a.m. workout on NO SLEEP. I suddenly found Matt, Emily, Sara and I sitting around the whiteboard brain-storming ideas and writing an outline in different colors on what we’d need to ask the section editors at our staff meetings that night, how to best get what we needed from them, who would take turns speaking and on what.
No one was upset.
They just wanted to help. That night at our weekly staff meeting, Matt, Emily and I each took turns speaking. I went first, took a deep breath, and admitted what I hadn’t wanted to.
“There’s no way to sugar-coat this. Matt, Emily, Sara and I were in the o ce until 5:00 a.m.”
The rest of the editors grew quiet. Matt went on to speak about what he’d need form everyone, just as we planned, before dissolving into groups, working with each section to better divide up responsibilities.
And it worked.
… Sort of. News is a mess, as usual, but it’s 8:00 p.m. and we have two sections (almost!) done.
As I look around the room, laptop on my legs, watching Brooke, Lauren, Sydney and Emily laugh as they eat out of Mule Express boxes, laptops open, commenting on their writers articles, clicking away at their keys, I suddenly see the team I have before me, who continue to give their all as editors.
I’m realizing I needed to fail. I needed to take that step back and re-evaluate my plans for this year. I can’t build off of last year with a staff of mostly new writers. And I need to remind myself what my strengths are, and what others’ strengths are, and play to those. But ultimately, I’ve learned what amazing people make up this team, and who every day make this paper possible. And there’s going to be speed bumps ahead, that’s for sure, but there’s no one else I’d rather have at my side. To the Editorial Board: it’s going to be a great year ahead of us.