Firefighting with Street Reads


Right in the heart of Edinburgh, on the lower floor of a small indie bookstore called Lighthouse, is the current home of Street Reads, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation run by Ms Rachel Cowan. Also known as “the Book Wumman”, Rachel is a firm believer in the transformative power of reading, and has been donating books to homeless folk since 2015. Street Reads –as well as Rachel– have been through a lot ever since. One of the first things I noticed about her is that her compassion for the homeless lacked any element of pity or sense of superiority, but rather came from a sense of kinship with this folk; Rachel is deeply empathetic in the way only a person who has themselves gone through plenty of hardships can be.

I first heard about this initiative from our programme leader, Ms Avril Gray, who recommended Street Reads as a volunteering placement. I immediately applied for the placement, because I’ve enjoyed volunteering in the past, and I felt especially drawn to the idea of giving away books in the same way you would give a blanket or food to those in need, as they are equally important. Continue reading “Firefighting with Street Reads”


How to Survive your First Week in Postgrad Publishing: A (Tentative) Guide

Step 1: See the first task. Worry. Then panic. Then breathe. Carry through with the task anyway. Fail.

Step 2: Breathe again. See the next task. Then panic some more. Then try some more. Sort of fail again.

Step 3: Get disappointed.

Step 4: Get stubborn. Sit yourself down and make a plan. The plan is a simple one, and it’s more of a contract than a plan. A contract with yourself to accept that failing is a step on the path to succeeding, not the end of the path. Or, anyway, that you will treat it as such; even if you don’t believe it yet. And then…guess what! You breathe some more!(that’s the most essential part to be honest…)

Trying out new things and pushing past your limits may sound like good general life advice, and it might indeed be exciting and stimulating, but that’s not all there is to it. It might feel ugly and stressful and uncomfortable. It might feel as if it’s not cut out for you. What if you’re not the kind of person who enjoys taking risks? What if you comfort zone is too…well…comfortable to leave?

I have no answers yet, but I guess we’ll just have to take it one day at a time. Maybe it’s not supposed to be all fun and excitement. Maybe it makes sense that when you push your limits too hard they push back: that on your way to grow and progress you’re about to encounter resistance, and the worst kind of resistance will often come from yourself. So better think of it this way: what you’re experiencing now is far from proof that you aren’t meant for this; what you’re experiencing might just be growing pains.

Until next time,