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By Sophia Chan, RMIT Professional Writing and Editing student and IPEd member (EdVic)

When your first foray into publishing a book begins with “you’ve got 3 months – good luck”, it’s admittedly quite daunting.

There were tears. There were weekly stand-up meetings that sometimes felt like prayer circles. There were packets of comfort chocolate. And there were mini celebrations for every milestone reached.

What you become: an anthology is the latest source of pride from RMIT’s Professional Writing and Editing (PWE) program, the final piece of work for many of 2023’s graduating class. It’s a collection featuring short-form writing from 46 emerging writers deep-diving into the theme of “change”, explored in all its forms: physically and emotionally, literally and figuratively. The student-team, headed by managing editor Michaela Skelly – our rock within this whirlpool – underwent the transition from inexperienced editors to proud publishers of our first book.

The anthology editing team were both editors and writers who submitted writing to the anthology. We knew how to craft a narrative. We knew grammar. We could debate over semicolons and comma placements with passion. But the stakes of this project and our status as “emerging” editors meant there were times when we faltered. We had just 12 weeks between manuscript selection and print, two industry strikes that chiselled away time, and other classes and life commitments. Two years of learning the craft of writing and editing no longer felt like enough, and doubt was a detriment to progress.

I’d never formally worked with an author before. Receiving someone’s manuscript felt a bit like being handed a newborn baby: how do you hold this thing? What does it need? How do you make sure it doesn’t just live but flourish?

And through the process, I learned that editing seems to be largely about trust: the ability to trust your team, to foster trust with your author or client, and to trust yourself as an editor to be able to make their vision come to life. To be uplifted by the knowledge that someone put a piece of themselves on a page for you to protect, believing that you won’t tear it into pieces, but will shape it so that it can soar.

By the end, the 14-strong editing team confidently navigated the self-publishing process, juggling manuscripts between authors, proofreaders and the typesetter while eyeing the deadline with determined, bloodshot gazes. We had a goal to gift our authors – and ourselves – the best possible book we could publish, and so that’s what we did.

What you become: an anthology was officially launched on 15 November 2023 and now sits proudly and boldly on the shelves of Readings Melbourne-wide. It’s also available through online retailers – I shamelessly encourage you to pick up a copy and see the results for yourself.