Edinburgh’s West Port is enchanting. Having been used to the flatness (and wetness) of Glasgow, the dips and peaks of the windy, winding streets just past Grassmarket have become one of my favourite things about the city. My reason for being in West Port, too, is equally exciting.
Main Point Books is one of a few second-hand bookshops in the area, and for the past few weeks I’ve been an editorial intern with Main Point’s owner, Jennie Renton. Jennie works freelance for several publications, and also Luath, so I was prepared to enhance my skills and gain insight into the world of freelancing. She also created Textualities, an online and print compilation of fiction and the book trade. Working from the back, and at times the very front, of such a beautiful, book-filled space has been surreal in the best way possible. Being surrounded wall-to-wall by books is surely the most inspiring work environment.
Though I’m only four weeks into my placement with Jennie, I’ve already learned from and contributed a fair amount to her editorial commitments. First up was an afternoon of proofreading. Evergreen is published by the Word Bank and Edinburgh Old Town Development Trust, and is a re-imagining of Patrick Geddes’ magazine of the same name. I proofread the third issue, for which Jennie did the typesetting. I had the freedom to make comments on changes or corrections that I felt were appropriate, which Jennie and Sean Bradley (the editor) then checked over. As nervous as I was to justify my comments, they were supported by Jennie and Sean, who were very encouraging.
My editorial work continued when I got the chance to work with prolific Scottish author, Angus Peter Campbell. Luath is due to publish his new novel, and I was set to work with Angus on the blurb. The process was fascinating and painstaking – redrafting the all-important blurb alongside Angus was exactly the kind of editorial experience that I was eager to get my hands on. I hope to have the chance to work closely with authors in the future, and as I continue my placement with Jennie, I’m sure the opportunity will arise again.
While I still have a few weeks left of my placement, I’m finding being around Jennie (and her colleagues, clients and customers!) very useful. Genuinely passionate about the book world and the written word, Jennie provides a great learning environment. Encouraging with tasks and constructive with feedback, she demonstrates a level of skill and enthusiasm that I hope to emulate throughout my publishing career.
I can’t say with certainty what I’ll be doing on my next visit to Main Point, but I can say that I’m excited to make my way to West Port again for the placement experience of my bookish dreams.