Learning at Luath – Day One.

I’m not long back from a saunter down the very busy Royal Mile following my first day at Luath Press. What a change from grassy hills, sheep and cows; and the wonderful aromas I had to walk through–coffee, food, waffles! But I managed to resist.

My first day was busy in a way I’m not used to being busy. After a friendly welcome from Laura and a steep climb up the many stairs, I was introduced to Gavin and encouraged to read the Luath website to familiarise myself with the current projects first. I had already had a good scan, but it was good to have a re-cap. I was informed they were waiting for Ella, another intern who would also be learning at Luath this week. The views from the small, stappet fu office are immense

When Laura arrived, Gavin gave us an overview of all things publishing. We were handed a list of all the learning opportunities available and asked to highlight what interested us the most. I sat with my yellow pen highlighting various tasks such as “book blurb” and “assess manuscript” and “interview author”. It was a bit nerve wracking, but I didn’t get the opportunity to worry.

Next it was over to Laura to allocate us work for the day. I spent the day proofreading my first manuscript. Later in the day, Gavin called us over and gave us a run-down of other projects and suggested work that might be beneficial to us in terms of the courses we are doing, as well as personal/writing interests.

I have to say, I was slow to get going and a bit frightened to put red pen marks on the white paper but by 5pm I had tackled my fear. I was also worried that I was reading too slow but a quick chat with Gavin soon fixed that. He explained that there are many aspects that effect how fast a manuscript is read; people read at different speeds, the type of reading that is required i.e. proofreading, editing, as well as the type of manuscript–factual or fiction-are but a few that he mentioned.

So, what have I learned?

Publishing is a multifaceted process that requires patience, skill, a keen eye as well as bucket loads of creativity. The manuscript I was reading was dense with factual information and not the type of thing I would normally read. I was aware that I was trying to rush and had to actively slow myself down. I had to check names, dates, and place names to ensure they were correct which slows the process.

Before I knew it, it was 5pm and time to come back to the hotel. I packed up and descended to street level and into the throng that is Edinburgh. I can tell that this week will fly past!

Highs and Lows of the Writing Life

River Deep Mountain High pretty much sums up how I feel from day to day whilst navigating through the MLitt Writing Practice and Study course. I can go from feeling complete deflation at momentary lack of creativity or inability to respond intelligently in tutorials, to feeling on top of the world when that once tricky poem begins to flow or that short story finally gets a decent ending.

So the University Archives exhibition that myself and my fellow students recently contributed to was aptly named, River Deep Mountain High, as although we were all thrilled to be included in an actual exhibition, that people would actually see, that would even have its own *gasp* launch night, we were all also feeling rather apprehensive and weird about the prospect of our work being on display for everyone to see. At the end of last year, we had been invited to view some of the University Archives that related to the natural landscape- bridge models, mountaineering photographs, botanical artefacts etc- and to produce a creative response to any that gave us inspiration. The exhibition is currently running in the University’s Tower Building and it is a stunning collection of super interesting archives on display alongside the hugely varied creative responses of writers and artists. Such a diverse mix of poetry, prose, essays, sculpting, jewellery, paintings and drawings that offer something for everyone. Go see it!

In the exhibition you’ll see a poem I wrote, ‘The Bothy’, inspired by the visitor book from the Scottish Highlands’ Corrour Bothy. I was feeling rather chuffed and excited before the exhibition launch, my first one, but when I got there and saw my poem on a large board at the far side of the room a strange sensation of vulnerability made me want to turn on my heels and run away before anyone could figure out that it was my poem. I still can’t figure out what I was feeling; nerves, self-doubt, a wish that I’d spent more time on it? I did stay for the duration of the launch, and gulped down a glass of red wine to calm the jitters, and I did actually make it close enough to my poem to check for typos (too late anyway but luckily there were none). When asked if I wanted my photo taken beside my piece I politely declined and edged away (all the while inside I was screaming, ‘Nooooooo, never, don’t you know how mortified I am that people are reading my poem??’). Hmmm. What was going on there then?

Writers are funny folk. We write to express but some of us shy away from the sharing of our expressions. Perhaps some of us feel imposter syndrome more than others? More of that in my next blog in which I will pretend I am a blogger and blog about pretending.