After two years of living with coronavirus, the work-from-home environment has become the norm. It has its drawbacks, but also its advantages. For me, working part-time while studying for a Masters has meant that this mode of working grants me a degree of flexibility with my working hours to ensure my responsibility to my job and my personal goals with my course are met. I work at Luath Press as a Marketing, Events and Gaelic Publishing Co-ordinator. My role has a wide remit. As a small company, my colleagues and I often have a cross-over into roles that other larger businesses would have whole departments for. It’s a steep learning curve, but an incredibly rewarding one, and, luckily, I’m a quick study.
Luath Press is an independent publishing house based in Edinburgh and it is open to work placements and internships. I must admit, it is strange to read back on previous blogs on publishingdegree.co.uk and see accounts of past students, who were in a similar place to me only a few years ago, reflecting on their weeks in the office I have never stepped foot in. The closest I have ever been to sitting at a desk in the Luath premises on Castlehill is through a computer screen on Zoom, with manuscripts piled high behind Gavin MacDougall, the director.
One of the key skills I have acquired in the months I have been at Luath Press is the ability to effectively communicate with my colleagues. Being separated by miles and reduced to a quick Slack message has made clear communication paramount. I have now fine-tuned it to a subconscious habit: the daily catch-ups in the morning; updates on rolling projects; urgent information passed on in quick phone calls; logs of information updated regularly; and an events diary that has become a life-line. As I work only three days a week, my role as an events co-ordinator is shared with another. We work interchangeably and occasionally we won’t cross paths for weeks. When I am working, this events diary is open in my tabs at all times. Any new information, from simple email check-ins with authors on their launches, to finalising event invitations, are all logged so that nothing gets caught in the ether. Each time we swap over, we do our best to create a seamless transition. Despite meticulous planning and clear-cut communication, things do go wrong. We may share the same role, but after all, we do not share the same mind, and due to human nature, emails can be missed.
When I am not organising events, I create marketing plans and material for upcoming publications, including Gaelic books. As I write this, it is Wear a Gaelic T-Shirt Day. This is part of Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week) which started on March 21st 2022, a government funded celebration of Scottish Gaelic all over the world, from Scotland to Australia to Canada. It has been as exciting as it is uplifting. Social media has been pinging with famous names like Julie Fowlis (who sang the soundtrack for Disney Pixar’s ‘Brave’) sharing learning resources, seminars announcing new Gaelic initiatives, Scottish bands putting on concerts daily, videos of children celebrating their language, and even ‘Line of Duty’ actor Martin Compston getting involved. Gaelic is evidently very much alive.
It has been a delight to work on Angus Peter Campbell’s new Gaelic crime-fiction novel, Constabal Murdo 2: Murdo ann am Marseille (Constable Murdo 2: Murdo in Marseille) during this time; the hive of activity has been inspiring ideas and motivating me to learn more about the Gaelic publishing trade. Indeed, Luath Press’ name comes from Gaelic. Luath Press was founded in Ayrshire and its name was inspired by Rabbie Burns’ dog, Luath, meaning ‘quick’.
As my interests are set in Scottish publishing, it is a privilege to gain such experience and insight working at Luath Press. Now firmly established on Edinburgh’s High Street, it has just celebrated its fortieth year.