Tag Archives: MLitt Publishing

Working full – or part-time while studying – doable exhaustion?

Penguin

A discussion on Reddit sparked a wander down a memory lane. Contributor j_icicle enquired  How do people bring themselves to be in full-time work and part-time education at the same time? For this contributor the mere idea seemed inconceivable;

I just can’t see my self sticking with it, I can’t drop full-time work because of rent and life ect but I’ve been doing shit jobs for 8 years with very little increase in pay. My GF would never let me just up and take out huge loans to get my through university and it would be unfair to her if I did.
Taking 4 years out of my life, by the time I get anywhere I’ll be 28. I also get paid to play music a few times a week so I’d have to drop my social life as well as that extra income would be gone.

Child, please – I was lucky to go through big chunk of my studies without having to work but once that option was gone, I worked and I worked hard – there was no question. While studying full time, I had two part time jobs as well as being involved in student advisory body at my undergraduate institution

So many other contributors have lived through it, and they know the reality of it –

I work a full-time job and go to school full-time as well. Is it difficult? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You’re just going to have to make some sacrifices along the way. That might be not grabbing a beer with your buddies every weekend due to studying. As long as you remain focused, you’ll be fine. (OhPraiseHim)
In 4 years you are going to be 28. Do you want to be 28 with a degree or 28 without a degree?
Eye on the prize, mate. Little pain now for greater gain later. (Pun_In_Ten_Did)
I am currently working full time and attending school full time. I had the same issue you seem to be having, what’s the point of going back to school if I’m going to be 28 by the time I graduate? If you let that thinking take over, next year you’ll be 29 by the time you graduate instead of one year closer to your goal.
Can it be stressful? Totally. But I keep telling myself that I’m going to bust my butt now so I can have an easier life in the future.
My suggestion is to try going to school while maintaining your full time position. If it gets to be too much, there’s no shame in cutting work back to part time while taking out some loans. Loans can be a great resource if used properly. (DC_lurker)

 

Once I decided to do my postgraduate and move to a new country (best choice ever – by the way!) I knew I would have to work. I ended up being unemployed for several months but eventually through volunteering I met some good people, got my first job in a new city and never stopped working since. At the busiest time I had 3 part time jobs while studying part time in a university that was in a different city than where I lived. And I was making enough to make ends meet, not to save much or have that “out all night, sleep all day” student life. I had weeks when I would together with the commute work anything between 60-72 hours a week, plus studying time. My friends and family were asking me when do I find time to sleep? August 2014 was my reply – that would be when I have handed in my thesis and I wouldn’t commute, I wouldn’t write, I wouldn’t research, I would just work. Just one job. I would have a regular 9-5 life like so many people and I would love it.

As I put on my penguin gown and listened to the speeches, as I walked in a line, got “capped” and my hand shaken and patted on the back by friend and families, I swore never again – never again would I study as it had drained me dry and it was hard and I had achieved what I was out to get education wise. It was time for a change. I was exhausted.

And now I work. Yet I haven’t really found the haven I was looking for. It’s not the job; I enjoy my work (or aspects of it…).

My jobs have exhausted me more than my studies did; I commute, I work on shift-pattern, I come home, I eat sleep and repeat. I haven’t got much time or energy to socialise, and I seem to recluse myself without realising, making bad excuses for not going out or avoid making plans all together as I know I might have to work. And I have started to consider options. My work has made me see how much I enjoyed studying, how much I enjoyed the reading and researching, the constructive arguing and the writing, the testing my own abilities intellectually. I have realised I long to be back in an University setting; I am a fish out of water without it.  Although there are so many questions to answer before a decision can be made. Questions like; “will someone supervise my idea?”, “is my idea good enough?”, “am I good enough?”, “will I have the energy?”, “will I get bored?”, and so many more, but most importantly – “how will I afford it?”

Is going back to university, working throughout full or part-time really worth it? Would I do it again? The answer is simply yes. I’ve done it, and it burned me out very quickly. But damn did it not also kick my but in gear. I am older now, I’d like to believe I have more discipline and determination and I definitely have learned to skimp and not have the kind of social life most students dream of.

Now I just have to make words into actions. Easy, eh?

 

onlyWay

 

 

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The Way Forward in the Form of a Rant

You know the tap in your bathroom or kitchen that no matter how tight you close it keeps dripping and dripping and dripping and eventually you end of screaming at this inanimate object out of frustration ultimately realising your frustration towards that tap is a symptom not a cause? It’s not the tap you’re annoyed with. It’s the dripping that slowly fills you to the brim.

Rather a stale idiom, isn’t it? But it works. My brim came full the other day when I found out things that I just could not fathom any professionals would or even could stoop down to. So I have decided to open the taps full and start all over again. I don’t mind where I go from here, as long as I’m moving.Aija Oksman, MLitt Publishing

Due to disclosure agreements and possible social media monitoring that the company conducts and other rather inconceivable ridiculousness I’ve encountered, I won’t be naming or shaming. But I will quite happily wonder about the future.

I’ve finished my degree. MLitt in Publishing  and am slowly coming into terms of not being a student anymore. It’s about damn time, I think. Difficult part now is to figure out what next?

Is publishing what I really want to do? What in it appeals to me? What kind of publishing would I want to be involved in? Am I corporate material or rather independent publishing type? Editing? Proofreading? Marketing? Translating? Literary agency?

Actually, I know exactly what I would want. I know exactly what I would be good at and where my passion lies. But it’ll take a while to get there, and requires experience and experimenting. Of course in the ideal world I could combine my love for cooking/baking and coffee with working with independent publishing, minority literatures and translations.

One can dream, right?

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The Pursuit Project

WebsiteThings are moving along nicely.

Saila and I have now started the English version of the succcessful Oman Elämänsä Prinssessa blog, under the titular The Princess of her own Existence. Rather dramatic name, but the story and journey of Saila are just that. Dramatic.

I cannot pretend I know anything about postnatal depression,
but I do know something about self-harm, depression and issues with eating – perhaps that is why I have always felt strongly about Saila’s experiences. And that is why I believe it is a journey worth sharing. Saila has very unashamedly shared deepest personal feelings and shown an insight to the world of a woman, a mother and a wife in the grips of depression. Something too many are still afraid to admit, to speak of and to express as openly as Saila does.

FatherWhat women endure in silence is exactly what Saila expressed loudly and proudly – together with her husband, Timo. They have been a team since the beginning, with Timo eventually becoming Saila’s photography partner. No one ever thinks about the father in these situations, sadly. Therefore, for the Pursuit Project it was clear from the beginning that we wanted to include the father’s perspective. In the sample book this was one spread, but in the plan for the full-length version the father’s contribution will be much more extensive, both in form of his own words and the photography.

At the moment, Saila and I are focusing in creating more space for the project in forms of social media and contacting publishers and potentially also agents. Although, honestly, I wouldn’t mind taking the role of agent here. This project, for Saila as well as for myself is very personal. For very different reasons, probably.

The next exciting part is that Saila is attending the Helsinki Book Fair 23–26th October, and will hopefully be able to reach a lot of people. Helsinki Book Fair10406956_10152820717569273_7258743995735808228_n is very different to the other book fairs that I have been lucky enough to be acquainted with. Another thing the Finnish publishing and Finnish literature are doing right, and the world fairs would have a thing or two to adopt from Helsinki Book Fair. The Helsinki Book Fair is an open doors event, meaning that it is not aimed just for the trade people but invites the public, which directly results into having more visitors, more acknowledgment and more spread. And finally, the Helsinki Book Fair has the policy of actually selling titles at the fair not just representing them, which has a direct correlation to the popularity and spread of the reputation and success of the Book Fair itself.

As the idea for the book begun as a graduate project for the University of Stirling, the final work was submitted as a sample of a book. It was always about creating something necessary, something for where there is an obvious market gap – and even bigger necessity of accessible, first-hand experience. Simple reason why Saila and I are working at creating this book, is to provide those suffering from postnatal depression with assurance that there is a way out, that it is not a taboo to speak out and you will not be stigmatised for admitting you need help. The first step to admitting and accept you cannot do it on your own anymore, is hearing it from someone who has been there before.

Saila’s openness, perseverance and current position as a spokesperson and mental health experience expert are an inspiration.

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Martins the Printers

April 24th, 2014 | Posted in Blog by Aija Oksman
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How are books made? If you ask a publishing student, you are in for an earful on the wading through a pile of slush in the hopes of discovering the next Hunger Games-trilogy or the next Booker Prize winner – something that stirs either financially or inspirationally. After that you will get an in-depth description of the editing and the decision-making processes all the way from typesetting, cover design to the final version. You might hear about the printing but the emphasis definitely is in the processes pre- and post-printing. That is what we know. That is what we can do. A publisher would not explain the whole printing process not as much for the lack of knowledge than for the fact of it being very mechanical and very distant form the publisher’s actual job. Therefore, the class of 2014 was in for a treat when we got to visit Martins the Printers at Berwick-upon-Tweed and get that rare glimpse to the inner workings of the printers.

David Martin, the sales director at Martins the Printers, kindly welcomed our group and gave us some history to the printers (printing since 1892 with newspapers and since 1950s they have focused on books) before unleashing us in two smaller groups to the belly of printers. Our guide Paul Waugh took us through each of the specific processes required in making a book, showing us the function of each machine and explaining in detail the time frames, the order in which each step is made and the differences between litho and digital publishing. As David and Paul both emphasised that is good for us young publishing hopefuls to know: the biggest differences that have come up through developments in printing is the effective cuts in costs; no more warehousing and the whole process is becoming faster and cheaper, enabling publishers to keep up with times and move their stock much easier – and this is definitely where the future of publishing is steadily moving towards.

The best way to show the process of printing is to visualise it through the snapshots taken through our tour.

Paul showing a printing plate

Printingplate2

 

First of all we went to see the creation of the printing plates, and how the printing plate is then entered into the machine that in the offset printing (economic way of producing large quanitites in one go) prints on the large sheets of paper before those sheets are taken to the next step.

Folding1

Printingplate3

 

The next step is the folding. The machine actually folds the large print sheets into correct combinations of pages and spreads. The man standing there then stags the fold onto a gurney, ready to be wheeled to the next step.

 

SownAfter the folding the pages are then sown together, the binding and glueing ready to be made. After sewing the covers get glued on and a version of the paperback is done.

 

The boys at the glueing machine were over-zealous in their testing, ripping Gluedcovers2covers and pages apart, destroying perfectly well-made ready books for the sake of testing. Heartwrenching. As seen in the above picture of tossed pages and covers of Tim Burton’s book. Never thought I could make such girly shrieks.

 

 

FinalisingThere is one more machine to be mentioned, besides the amazing hand-made Warmbookwork that follows each procedure to ensure perfection – and that is the “finaliser”. It is a machine that rounds the corners and compacts a hardback, to give it that book-look. There is nothing better than having that fresh-from-the-oven book in your hand, warm like a roll on  Sunday morning.

 

Definitely a tour every publisher needs to make regularly to keep up with the changes happening in the developemnts, and to understand the actual process of printing. It is a process to be appreciated and respected. It takes knowledge and skill and is an integral part of book making. Insightful.

 

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Publishing in a small nation on the brink of independence – Adrian Searle of Freight Books

What happens when an award-winning design company expands to create a publishing imprint? Back by popular demand, Adrian Searle, of Freight Books and the editor of Scotland’s leading literary journal Gutter, gave an insightful guest appearance for the Stirling MLitt Publishing class of 2013/14.

Adrian kicked his talk off with a wee slide show on all the expectation many have concerning what career in publishing will be like – money, fancy travels and big parties, more money and private jets… Before a big red X took over the screen and Adrian launched into the thick of it; publishing career is a lot more sweat and tears than money and fancy parties. Much more spending money than gaining money, a constant struggle for making that profit margin.

Adrian explained how publishing actually chose him rather than him actively pursuing the career in publishing – and it did not harm to do Masters in creative writing, after being lured into the spell of creative writing after the anthologies he published. Though setting up the imprint was far from easy, and ultimately took years to have all aspects figured out, and Adrian says a lot of it was thanks to the recession, and the “spaghetti plan” of other publishers. Though it might seem ominous to thank recession for enabling the success of another imprint, but it is a cutthroat business out there.

Combining the best of two worlds, going beyond the minimum both in published titles as well as their design, is what Adrian thrives towards. A great example of this is the Look Up Glasgow, a collaboration of the writer side of Adrian and the specialist architectural photographer David Barbour. The design of the book is all sorts of amazing, from the clever jacket that opens into one large photo on the inside of the jacket, to the clever cover design. Adrian, though, does admit he is perhaps not as motivated by money as he should but he does explain how the long-term aim is to make decent enough profit that allows them to publish without compromise those that truly tickles their fancy. On the one hand this means publishing a lot more non-fiction than fiction, but then the fiction that is published is something truly remarkable – such as the new translation of The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu. The advice to be learned here is, as Adrian emphasizes, publishers need to diversify – not just publish fiction.

Freight Books aims to branch out from what has become expected publications from Scotland – more than golf or whiskey books as there is so much more to be discovered from Scottish literature scene, as well as from international scene. Some of the title Adrian explains were from the start known not to be big sellers, but were done with prestige and diversification in mind. Such as the Pedro Lenz book, Naw Much of a Talker, which was originally written in Swiss vernacular and translated into Glaswegian. Personal pet projects combines with the anticipated bestsellers.

Commercial decisions do rule much of the published titles, but as Freight Books is not limited to just publishing of new titles, but also branches into design and journal fields, Adrian and co. have created one of the most successful Scottish publishing labels that keeps on surprising.

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