Being the editor of an independent, weekly, student newspaper is a little like sex.
Most of the endeavours taken on are at all levels gratuitous and masturbatory (see this page and this week's Academic Probation on page 24), fulfilling an editorial equivalent of satyriasis or nymphomania, a fervour rooted in the absurd gratification of hours spent unfucking the common, murderous specimens of English language abuse and spreading self-import with unnecessarily wordy editorials.
Your first time's preceded by a peculiar mixture of anxiety and excitement. Sure, you're a bit naive, but you've got potential. When it actually does start, it's kind of painful and you seem to fumble about awkwardly. After a while, hopefully, you start to learn the ins and outs and get a little more comfortable. You begin to work with others a little better. It's not long before you develop something that seems to satisfy most of the people involved.
You make out alright for a while, but inevitably start to get bored. People start mentioning "special projects" and "supplements" and, for the first time, you start to actually read obscure spam e-mails promising to fill in your gaps.
One day, you put out the first thing that actually makes you proud. The pressure rises and you feel the need to set the bar a little higher for next time, just to see if you can do it.
You discover both the blessings and side effects of chocolate and booze. After all, candy is dandy, but liquor is a quicker way to reward yourself at the end of a hard-fought week.
Looking back, some (sometimes related) choices that may have seemed fine at the time turn out to be glaring mistakes, but you're glad they're not quite as bad as they could have been (they make a cream for that).
Later in the lifetime of your short foray, you discover it's not really about the sex at all, but about life in general.
Eventually, you begin to accept that things sag and your flaws start to bother you less and you get a little less self-conscious.
"Screw it," you say. "I stopped caring what you all thought ages ago."
Then, one of three things happens. You either are found years later in a pile of your own filth, clutching what remains of that paper-clad forty, crawling slowly away from an urban storm drain and muttering occasional nothings in the ears of the public about "white space." You might, in fact, go out there and convince someone else that you are somehow competent at this whole pseudo-journalism thing and actually get a job. Perhaps you choose the third option and decide to escape with what remains of sanity and self-respect.
Hopefully, at the end of it all, you're able to keep some semblance of a sense of humour and pass along a few shiny nuggets of truth to unpack from your tattered, felt memory sack, which you'd supposedly been stuffing over the course of your ridiculously prolonged degree: firstly, that getting involved in a club is probably one of the most rewarding experiences you could hope for in university. Next, selling your soul to that club without understanding that Ws are better than Fs will likely familiarize you with the wide array of academic policies on campus for better and worse. Finally, no matter how hard you try, there will always be someone unhappy with your work, even if your biggest critic is unavoidably yourself.