Stuff happens when you leave the house: part one

I left the house several times in 2018 and 2019.

Each time, stuff happened.

Coincidence? You decide.

One outing was my second-ever SfEP conference, in September 2018. Held at Lancaster University, the theme was “Education, Education, Education”, a theme very relevant to my goal of becoming an Advanced Member over these past few years.

It was another hugely enjoyable SfEP conference. I benefited greatly from the workshops that were available but, as before, the chance to make new friends and catch up with old ones, in such a welcoming and friendly group, was the highlight.

Another occasion for leaving the house was Bloody Scotland, Stirling’s crime writing festival. I had such a great time. In addition to author events, I attended a writing workshop taught by AK Benedict . I’ve never had a creative writing class before and I​ loved it. She gave us objects and smells and sounds to write about. I was pleased with my efforts but not brave enough to read them out. (Clearly public speaking is another workshop​ that I need to attend.) I got to spend time with the very lovely Sara Donaldson. In the masterclass on writing and presenting a pitch, Sara was much braver than me and made an excellent presentation to the whole class. Very impressive. (Here we are having a well-deserved Blood-Orange Stirling Gin after our hard work –in church! – before the McIlvanney Awards.)

I went to that London three times. Twice for events organised by Sarah Calfee and Carrie O’Grady . First was a Plot Workshop with experienced fiction​ editor and historical​ writer Emma Darwin. A​ superb discussion about narrative. The second was a one-day fiction editing​ conference. The speakers were outstanding. I know how much work goes into organising​ these events, but if Sarah and Carrie have enough energy for another one I’ll be there. The other London event was the SfEP’s Educational Publishing Development Day. Although the Scottish curriculum wasn’t mentioned at all, it was an enlightening day. (I also saw Kinky Boots, The Book of Mormon and the Imperial War museum.)

In Edinburgh I attended an Understanding Epubs course run by Ken Jones and Publishing Scotland which has proved to be really useful in helping me to understand the processes behind the creation of ebooks.

And in May this year I went to Newcastle for the SfEP’s North-East Mini Conference. A grand day out with some excellent speakers. As usual, lovely to see fellow SfEP members and to meet new ones, and so nice to spend a tiny bit of time in the Toon.

Had I not joined the SfEP in 2014, I’d have missed out on all of this. Not just the obsessive attendance of courses so that I could upgrade to become an Advanced Professional Member, but the friendship and community of other editors.

I’m also really lucky to be a member of the hugely friendly Glasgow local group. A bunch who are incredibly generous with their knowledge and their baking. (Picture nicked from Denise Cowle. Brownies also made by Denise. She’s very versatile.)

We meet regularly and sometimes have educational outings followed by wine. (Like this talk by Alan Taylor about his book on Muriel Spark.)

We also like meeting up with other local groups. Last year’s jaunt to Linlithgow Canal Society (pic below) to join Edinburgh and Dundee members in a big group meeting was just lovely; and I heard great things about this year’s Dundee event at Discovery Point.

Publishing is a vast and varied industry so there will always be lots to learn. I made the upgrade, and yet I still keep going on courses and attending conferences.

And that’s because all this learning has been empowering and fun. It’s highlighted that this job is more than catching typos or being a tedious pedant. I feel really enthusiastic about editing thanks to all these inspiring people. It’s a good feeling to be part of it.


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