Jessica Perini Editorial Services > About me

About me

I wanted to be a journalist, well not really, but I couldn’t think of a better way to get paid to touch pen to paper. I knew most writers were poor; how I knew this as a 12 year old, sitting on a Holly Hobbie bedspread in a middle class tree-lined suburb, is beyond me. So I set about becoming a journo. At school I studied the literature of the world, the classics by Austen, the Brontës, Keats, Shakespeare and Wilde, then more contemporary works such as those by Orwell and Beckett. (Only in recent years have I discovered an orchestra of imagery from the hands of Arundhati Roy, the wild but compelling reality of Yann Martel, the tones of Australia depicted by Murray Bail and Robert Drewe.)

After school I went to university, studied communications and history. For four years I slogged away at my studies, buried myself in books and newspapers, took on a thesis. I worked three jobs to finance my studies, one in a bookstore, another in a library and the third working as a copy person at the biggest newspaper chain on the planet. You’d get no cigar for guessing I was obsessed with all things publishable; hence the nickname, ‘Bookster’.

One day arriving at work at the newspaper I found reporters from 60 Minutes, film cameras, blazing lights, cables, the works, sprawled across our open-plan office, following some of the copy people around the building.

Jessica Perini Editorial Services > About me

They watched us scramble to get copy down to typesetting, then trailed us out the door and down the road on our quests to buy editors’ lunches and coffees. Little did they know the moment the cameras clicked off our lives went back to normal: we’d get yelled at for not being able to get lunches, coffees and deliver copy to the typesetters all at the same time. We had to remember which editor had sugar and how much sugar they took in their coffee. If that wasn’t stressful enough one day the spoon — which was normally chained to the sink so it wouldn’t be stolen — was stolen. I stood at the sink and wondered how to get the sugar in the coffee. So I poured it in, only with no control over the amount it turned to cafèzinho, sugar coffee. Down the drain it went and I started again.

I remember a lot of unhappy people, not just copy people, but overweight and stressed editors, overworked and underpaid journalists. Once I remember a journalist stood up at his desk and yelled, “How the hell do you expect us to do anything worthwhile? Six stories in one day, six stories and I may as well be delivering them out of my ****.”

He had a good point. This wasn’t what I wanted out of life; to be paid to write to someone else’s agenda so many pieces that writing didn’t matter anymore. When the 60 Minutes program aired one of the viewers wrote in and asked, “If journos are such trustworthy people why is it necessary to chain spoons to kitchen sinks?” Hey, you can’t argue with logic. More