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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 17/10/2016

I am so delighted to announce that on Tuesday 25th of October we are publishing the tenth book in the Postcards from Scotland series. It is called She, He, they: Families, gender and coping with transition by Shirley Young. Not only is this a great contribution to discussion of gender transition issues in Scotland, it has also helped us get over a mounting problem.

When I came up with the idea of the Postcards from Scotland series a few years ago the last problem I thought we would face is gender balance but that has proved our biggest difficulty. By the time we published our ninth volume (Conviction by John Carnochan) the series was beginning to look seriously imbalanced.  Only three of the nine books had women as authors or co-authors. To my mind this wasn’t acceptable.

The problem didn’t result from us being gender blind. Far from it. I wrote my Ph.D many years ago on The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir and I think it so important that women’s voices are heard.  When I started to commission writers for the series I approached a number of women. One woman I know was planning to write a postcard with her son on social media. Sadly both of them were just too busy to write it. Another two women were keen to write a Postcard on work. Again this hasn’t transpired.  Another woman I know was keen to edit one on why the Scottish highlands and islands score so high for well-being but again she just didn’t have the time to do it.

Originally John Carnochan was co-writing number nine with Karyn McLuskey who has now replaced him as head of the Violence Reduction Unit. When we had the first meeting to discuss the book John agreed to make a start since he had some free time. Once I read the few chapters he had written I knew that he had to go it alone: he was telling a story and that compelling narrative structure would be undermined once it had to reflect two people’s experiences. Karyn was happy with this arrangement and agreed to contribute her own experiences at a later date. I fear that she too will find it difficult to carve out the time.

Whilst many potential  women authors were too busy with work or other parts of their lives to make progress on their books male authors submitted their completed manuscripts.  This is why we ended up with only a third of the books having a woman’s name in the title.

Part of the problem of the low number of women writers in the series has to do with the series itself. Of course, there are a number of great female writers in Scotland who have a lot to say – Lesley Riddoch and Joyce McMillan  immediately come to mind.  But they write for a living and there is virtually no money to be made from writing a Postcards from Scotland book. I wouldn’t even think of approaching them for this reason.

Myself and the Board at the Centre were sufficiently concerned about our lack of women authors that we resolved not to produce another book until it was by a woman. This is why there has been a gap of over fifteen months between us publishing number nine and number ten in the series.

Fortunately I mentioned the problem of too few women authors in an email to our database and Shirley Young immediately got in touch with her suggestion for a book – the book that’s coming out next week. I have now approached a number of other women I know who have interesting things to say and five of them are keen to contribute.

So if you are a woman who would like to write a Postcards from Scotland book please get in touch. It could be your book that we're launching sometime in 2017.



If you would like to order your copy of She, He, They you can purchase it by going to the Postcards website and we shall send it to you as soon as it is available.

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