Friday, 5 June 2009

Heather Collins: Ch-ch-ch-changes!

There’s lots of commotion in the office today. Everyone is moving desks because there’s been an addition to Scottish Book Trust's staff, and will be even more new SBT-ers before the year is out! Our new Children's Programme Assistant, Heather, has written this week's blog to tell us about her first week at work...

Two weeks ago I sat my final university exam. As I watched the last minute of exam time tick by I was filled with a strange mixture of sadness at having finished university and excitement for what was to come in the future. Unlike many of the people sitting in the exam room with me I was lucky enough to be able to relax in the confidence I had an exciting new job waiting for me – right after a week of pure self-indulgence and celebration that is!

I’m Scottish Book Trust’s new Children’s Programme Assistant and have just had my first full week at work. In my interview I was asked why I wanted the job and I told them it was because few people have the pleasure of being able to say they love what they do, as well as knowing that it makes a positive difference to other people. Working with the children’s team is going to let me continue working with books, which are my passion, and also try to get children across Scotland to love reading as much as I do – is there really a better job than this?

It has been a busy week, especially with Chris and Jasmine being on tour to Ayrshire with Sophie McKenzie, leaving the children’s team two members down. Between preparations for our Highland Tour in September, checking RSVPs to other events next week and arranging an author visit to Barvas School on the Isle of Lewis, I’ve had little time to do much else. Each day has flown by but I can honestly say I have enjoyed every minute – even the photocopying. Well okay, maybe not the photocopying, but getting up bright and early and spending the day doing lots of interesting things certainly beats being flat-bound and surrounded by Victorian literature – the scene which has formed the main part of the past two months of my life!

One of the most interesting tasks I was able to tackle this week was looking into ways we can improve our website so that it becomes an excellent place for children and young people to share their creative work, book reviews and get more involved with Scottish Book Trust more generally. I’m really looking forward to seeing the improvements take shape so we can work more closely with the people who really matter to us – the young readers of Scotland!

When I’m not at work I’ll be spending lots of time reading things I want to read which after four years of English Literature essays, seminars and exams, is a real treat! At the moment I’m reading Don DeLillo’s Americana – a wry look into the superficiality of America and consumer society. I have a large pile of other novels ready and waiting which include writers such as Cormac McCarthy, Hanif Kureishi and Paul Auster. A book I’m particularly excited to read is my new 1945 edition of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Waugh edited the book in 1952 and this is the only version still in print. I found the 1945 one in Barter Books in Alnwick during the aforementioned week of self-indulgence – it’s a visit every book lover must make! An entire train station packed with incredible second-hand books.

I absolutely have to share with you my favourite Brideshead fact – in chapter one my name appears; one sentence ends with ‘Heather’, the next begins with ‘Collins’, I bet few people can say that of their favourite novel!

Of course on top of all that I’ll also be reading lots of brilliant children’s books, starting with the Royal Mail Awards shortlist. The books I read as a child still stand out as some of my all-time favourites. I believe the reading you do when you’re young stays with you forever. I can’t wait to discover the magic of contemporary children’s fiction.

Knowing that there are so many people who hope to find employment in the arts, particularly with books, I feel very privileged to be getting this amazing opportunity and hope to share some more of my experiences with you another time!

Other news

Nicola Morgan's Deathwatch Dash.

Scottish Book Trust's creative writing competition receives press coverage in One Magazine and East Kilbride News.


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