A Hopeful's Lockdown Project: Leughstagram
As we begin another period in lockdown and more time is spent at home, we asked publishing hopefuls what projects they have been recently working on – as now is the perfect time to catch up on their ever-growing to-be-read pile, stay inspired and upskill. In this feature we speak to Fine Mayer about her new lockdown project.
Fine has a strong interest in Gaelic publishing and has created a new book blog and Bookstagram in Gaelic to keep up to date on all of the new releases and bestsellers. She explains:
“I have started a book blog and a Bookstagram (or Leughstagram, as I call it) in Scottish Gaelic to share my reading journey with others who are learning the language or are simply looking to explore the wealth of literature the Highlands and Islands have brought forth throughout the centuries.”
After graduating this past summer with an English Literature degree, Fine wanted, like so many others, to get a job in the publishing industry. She feels like her many years working on her blog and Bookstagram would easily translate into publicity or marketing roles, but also expresses a particular interest in rights and sales. Overall, she would like to use her insights in the Scottish book trade in the future. Because the job market is more competitive now than ever, Fine thought this project would be a great chance to upskill, and at the same time has started a Gaelic Immersion year (Bliadhna Bhogaidh) at the University of Glasgow. Fine tells us:
“Part of this course is a community project which was moved online to allow for COVID-19 restrictions, and I wanted this project to be all about my interest in Scottish Gaelic literature – hence the blog and Leughstagram were born. This project is very dear to my heart and I am glad I could combine my passion for Gaelic books with my language course.”
Inclusivity within the publishing industry is currently a very hot topic, and we wondered whether Fine thought the publishing industry is inclusive of the Gaelic language. Fine tells us:
“With many well-known authors interacting exclusively in English and almost all large giveaways and other activities being hosted in English, it sometimes feels like there is little room for minority languages in this community, and I’m afraid this could also be reflected in the publishing landscape. Scottish Gaelic has faced many struggles over the last few centuries but there is ever-growing interest in this wonderful language and, with it, the culture and literature of the Highlands and Islands. I am hoping that we can carve out a space for minority languages in the online book community and celebrate the cultures these fantastic books represent.”
Writing creative blog posts can be tricky enough as it is. However, Fine’s greatest challenge is writing bilingually.
“I am neither a native Gaelic nor English speaker (I’m from Germany originally) so alternating between these two languages can, at times, be quite challenging. I am trying to be upfront about the fact that I am still learning so that other Gaelic learners are aware of any potential mistakes. At the same time, it’s also been so rewarding to talk to others with an interest in Scottish Gaelic, from those without any knowledge of the language to those who spoke Gaelic before they knew English. I discovered a fantastic online book club which allows readers to share their insights and progress with others, and on top of that, Mairead is a very welcoming and knowledgeable host.”
A Fantastic Response
The publishing community is renowned for being a positive and welcoming place, and Fine found just that response to her new project.
“So far, it’s been fantastic! I’ve received a fair share of lovely messages and was surprised by the interest in my project. It seems that there is a demand for book blogs and Bookstagrams in minority languages, and it’s merely a case of finding the right audience for these. I hope this may encourage others to take the leap and explore the path less trodden.”
For advice to other publishing hopefuls who are thinking of starting up a project of their own Fine advises:
“Just go for it! If you have any particular interests, show off your passion in your project. It’s not about having a huge audience or changing the world but highlighting what you feel is important and worthwhile. With that, you will always learn new skills and gain new experience, and that’s the best you could hope for, right?!”
We hope that Fine Mayer’s project has inspired you as much as it has us! We want to thank Fine for chatting to us and wish her the best of luck with her new venture. You can find Fine on her socials here: