Lockdown diaries: the apprentice artworker

I have always had an interesting relationship with books as a result of my dyslexia. As a child I hated reading and it was not until I was fifteen that I started to enjoy it. I decided I wanted to work in publishing, which felt like a pipe dream for several years. So, when I got my job at Bloomsbury as an apprentice it was a dream come true.  

Stepping into offices rumoured to be painted in house colours from Harry Potter, where no matter whom you talk to you can hear their excitement for the titles that they are working on, and the pride everyone shares for the books that we as an industry are able to bring to the world – working in such an environment is intoxicating.

When you have to swap that to working from home, it’s jarring. Imagine going from such an electric atmosphere to working from home where you only see the people you live with, and when your commute is cut from getting up, getting ready and catching a train, to a short trip downstairs in your dressing gown to your computer.

After a first few weeks of working from home I started to struggle. I would be constantly thinking about work and feel unable to separate myself from all the things that I had to do alongside my apprenticeship coursework. I started to obsess over everything I did wrong and I was constantly comparing myself to others, I began to feel like I was failing the people in my team as well as my boss and my tutor. To try and silence the negative clamour, I decided to challenge myself to learn how to do a handstand. I found when I practised, the stress and tension that had been building up started to ease.

Lockdown has taught me a few things and reminded me of a couple strategies that I had forgotten. Most importantly, I have learned how much I love publishing as an industry, and how desperately I want to do a great job. I have realised that picking myself apart over every mistake I make or comparing myself to others doesn’t make me or my work any better. Instead I should celebrate what I am getting right and use my mistakes to better my work as well as myself - and when the stress starts to build back up, go into the garden and practice my handstands.

Jess Stevens is currently working as an apprentice artworker at Bloomsbury. She loves to write and has written a book which she hopes to one day have published. She wants to continue working in publishing after her apprenticeship, with a goal of working in marketing.