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Heading North

Tomorrow morning, an hour before sunrise, I will drive north up one of my favourite roads to my placement at Sandstone Press. Like I think everyone before their placement, I’m both excited and nervous. Oh, and worried about what to wear! I’m really looking forward to seeing from start to finish the process of publishing a book, and maybe to finding out some hints to increase the likelihood of getting published myself (hint 1: write a book).

I’m hoping I might get a chance to do some proofreading too. I’ve done it before, but a bit of Googling has introduced me to digital proofreading and marking up, something that’s new to me and obviously I’m panicking even though I don’t even know if I’m going to be doing any: classic self sabotage. Anyway, a placement is a chance to learn – after all there wouldn’t be much point in going if I already knew everything, would there? So I’m running with that thought, and packing my suitcase with my entire wardrobe – which should cover the first three days there, if I don’t spill anything on me.



Pre-placement Panic

I am extremely lucky to have been granted an internship at Edinburgh’s fantasic Luath Press. But the start date is now a mere 3 days away and its fast approach brings with it a myriad of emotions.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m far from shy (perhaps they’d even show you the video of me belting out Cher’s ‘Believe’ to a pub full of strangers). But I think a lot of English Lit students (including myself) have insisted they ‘want to work in publishing’, without really knowing what this entails. Now that I’ve been given a chance to see what it’s all about – I’ll admit I’m nervous. No amount of researching the company, reading the books they produce or googling ‘how to write a press release’ stops me from having the occasional panic …

What if they are disappointed by my lack of knowledge? What if the tasks I’m set are above my skillset? What if I can’t find the building? What if I don’t make a good impression? What if my idea of publishing is all wrong? And for heaven’s sake, WHAT SHOULD I WEAR??

But despite these worries, I am beyond excited. I’ve decided to give myself some much-deserved credit and tackle this opportunity like a boss.

Best of luck to anyone else fighting off nerves and trying new things.


Placement Proceeding

I feel a bit behind others who are already up and running, but my placement at Sandstone Press in Dingwall is now all sorted, to start on 18th February. I’m really excited, especially having looked at their site and seen some of their great books. I’m interested to see Cameron McNeish there, an outdoorsy person after my own heart – although he literally walks the walk, while I tend  to talk the talk. I’ve also been promised an interview with Moira Forsyth, the editorial director, as she wears her other hat of author of five novels. It feels good to have things on the move.

Hania Allen interview by Chris Hodghton

I interviewed the fabulous crime writing author Hania Allen at the DCA this morning. If you’ve not read her novels … I would certainly recommend them. Her latest ones, The Polish Detective and Clearing the Dark are gripping and layered with detail. They are set in Dundee. I now just need to get a map as a non-Dundonian and find the settings for the scenes… 😊

Pub B – Caithness

Caithness Work Placement – Publishing B

28 Jan 19: What a journey it has been just to start bringing my work placements together and the logistics of email conversations. I have spent about ten days researching and planning what dates I can do; what I can do at the venues and various other pieces to ensure I get the fullest experience in the North of Scotland. So, one thing that I can reflect on is that planning and logistics is a time-consuming process!  I am super excited to be going to a great venue in March in the delightful North (see map below). You can have a little sneak peek here if you want to know more about Caithness Horizons

I also just signed up to their newsletter. If you plan a little trip to the North one day, it may be good to know the venue is there to visit.

Keep an eye out for further updates as I get more confirmations in the next few days.


In pursuit of Vagabonds in Ibrox!

After a quiet December over-indulging on Netflix, mid-January is witness to a wee bit more street activity with me taking the Glasgow subway (underground railway to the uninitiated) from Partick to Ibrox to make the acquaintance of Allan Cameron, owner of Vagabond Voices, a small independent publishing house in Govan. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be spending my internship with Allan learning about the various aspects of the business – from commissioning new works to marketing strategies.  In the meantime, I have been tasked with the job of writing a blurb for a new anthology of prisoners’ writings so right in at the deep end with this one!  Watch this space! TV OFF!!!

A grand day out in Glasgow and Susan Calman’s Hat

HO, HO, HO ….the festive season approaches and Semester 1 draws to an end. I have a hurried e-mail conversation with Hannah at Glasgow Women’s Library about my prospective internship in Semester 2. Let’s meet, we agree. Early in the new year before everything gets too busy. Brilliant. We put a date in the diary. I’m feeling very organised and it’s not even Christmas yet.

I ring a friend. “Do you fancy a day out in Glasgow? I’m going to the Women’s Library.”

“Oh please, I’ve always wanted to go. It’s been on my list for years.”

“That’s settled then. Don’t forget your bus pass.”

With Twelfth Night behind us and Semester 2 looming ahead, we arrive in Laundressy Street and are made most welcome at the library. As my friend explores, I meet with Hannah to discuss the detail of the forthcoming internship. I shall spend the next ten Fridays here and my focus will be #FlashFictionFriday – encouraging women to submit short pieces of fiction online using prompts to be sourced from the library archive. This is great news and I try to contain the urge to babble with excitement.  I don’t want to alarm Hannah.  Instead, I focus on taking in the unique atmosphere here. The lending library consists mostly of donated books and free copies of significant texts blagged from publishers. The siren shelves sparkle with the stripey spines of Women’s Press Fiction and glow green with Virago Modern Classics. It feels comfortable and familiar  and  I want to stay all day,  looking at books. But there is much more to see and discover about this space which celebrates the lives and achievements of women whilst championing their contribution to Scottish Culture. Hannah gives me an overview of the many projects undertaken by GWL – events, groups, activities, learning programmes, outreach projects but then asks if I would like to see the archive. And would my friend like to come along? I search for her and find her devouring information about Women’s Heritage Walks.  We must come back and investigate some of these, she says.

Waves of wonder and nostalgia sweep over us as Hannah guides us through the stacks, randomly opening boxes to reveal the treasures within. Members of the public donate much of the archive materials so there are are boxes of photographs and memorabilia relating both to individuals and to social, civic and community groups. Also here are complete back collections of feminist publications like Spare Rib and Harpies and Quines ( oh, the memories!….) We look at some placards made recently by a group of female prison inmates as part of a women’s history project and spy a lone top-hat sitting on one of the shelves.

“Oh…that’s Susan Calman’s hat from Strictly Come Dancing,” says Hannah, “Susan is a regular donor.” We are impressed.

Do they ever refuse donations, we wonder? Hannah tells us they’ve had to politely turn away more knitting patterns as there is limited space to store them.

My friend and I resist the urge to stay all day. We thank Hannah and I tell her with complete sincerity that I can’t wait to come back. We venture forth to search for lunch in Bridgeton. As we eat, we ask ourselves how a pair of ageing feminists have managed to avoid the lure of the Women’s Library for so long. We have no idea but agree that we’ll both be back.