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It’s a tough job…

July 29th, 2012 by Helen Lewis McPhee | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on It’s a tough job…
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This week finds me editing submissions in the shade of the wisteria that runs wild across the terrasse of my grandparents’ house in the Ardeche region of France. Behind me, Ben, the black Labrador, is my sleepy supervisor, snuffling along the hedgeline and reminding me to keep at it. Despite his insistence, I occasionally allow myself respite from the eradication of comma splices and erroneous apostrophes with a refreshing dip in the 26 degree pool, or a literary dip into 18th century Paris.

There are worse jobs in the world. To fund my undergraduate degree I spent my summers, amongst other things, cleaning at a chicken farm. Such is the true price of higher education. That delicate scent of chicken poop and disinfectant may be the one presiding memory that has stuck with me since my student days.

In the few short years between undergraduate and postgraduate study, I turned my hand to wedding planning, fine wines, facilitation and fostering. Through every one of these roles, I found myself drawn back to working with writers and writing, and finally summoned up the courage (and the several thousand pounds), to take the publishing plunge: initially interning at a literary agency, and then completing my Masters.

The journey over the last two years from wannabe publisher to fully-fledged editor has been a bumpy one, and I still struggle to believe that I’m finally here. To have the privilege of working with such talented writers and esteemed academics is the realisation of a long-standing dream. To play such a part in the exploration and expansion of publishing boundaries through the new digital medium is beyond my wildest.

Today, I am copy-editing short stories and poetry from the comfort of a French villa. The cigales are singing in the background as I immerse myself in rural Luxemburg, remote Shetland, and central Glasgow. And Nana has just brought me a kir. Santé!

Creating an app: the initial stages

July 12th, 2012 by Paula_Morris | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Creating an app: the initial stages
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The months have whizzed by since our first meetings in February with Claire Squires and Padmini Ray Murray to discuss the parameters of the AHRC Book Unbound  project.

Neither Scott Russell nor I live in Stirling, so our first production meeting was a phone call one chilly Monday in late February, where we discussed everything from mission statements to page counts, Twitter feeds to job descriptions. As Scott mentioned in his blog post, we presented these job descriptions, along with a call for content, to the Publishing and Creative Writing students, and waited for their response.

In March, the full steering committee – the Gang of Four – met to discuss the applicants for the project assistant roles. We had a lot of CVs and ideas to sift through, but we soon agreed on the three most suitable candidates: Helen Lewis-McPhee as Associate Editor, and two Production Assistants, Louisa Preston and Aileen Taylor. Our aim was to create a balanced team, with a range of experience (and, hopefully, some good ideas).

Our fleshed-out production team met in April, in a typically dispiriting university conference room. We gathered around the white board and discussed practical issues – like information-sharing via Podio and Dropbox – as well as creative ones. What kind of content could we expect for the app we were developing? What kind of attributes did we want the finished product to have? How would everything work together? What could we call this thing?

At this stage, Scott said, no idea was out of bounds. (‘Out of Bounds’: one of our title ideas!) Everything went up on the white board. We agreed that none of the title ideas were quite the thing, but that was OK. Maybe something would emerge from the content, or from the process of reading and working with the content. Two-and-a-half months later, we still don’t have a title. It’s still OK. I’m confident that something will strike one – or all – of us, as the app continues to take shape and come to life.