It seems light years since I was there, but what wonderful memories I have of that visit to Dublin for Bloomsday 2011 and all thanks to writing this here thing called a blog which led to an invitation from the Irish Tourist Board.
In fact I feel like calling it Happy Blogsday because I have been in London this weekend talking about dovegreyreader and blogs and book 'reviewing' in the digital age et al for The Literary Consultancy. I was part of a fascinating discussion panel chaired by Paul Blezard, with Mark Thwaite (of Ready Steady Book and Quercus) and Sam Leith (one time lit.ed of the Daily Telegraph, now a freelance journalist) and it was good to be able to think about all that in the run up, practise a few mental moves etc and also get out of my gardening clothes for a day...oh yes, and be awake all night on Friday wondering if I would wake up in time for the early train..
Of course this being the digital age everything you say is being live tweeted and with pictures too ...how terrifying is that, and, having left all technology at home, I had to hold my breath until we walked back in the door at midnight to see what faux pas may have slipped through. In the end all seemed to have gone well and so chirping through the ether came all the values I hold dear about all this...
Sam Leith offered a brilliant introduction to the world of journalist/newspaper reviewers and dispelled any claims that may be made for their literary superiority. Mark Thwaite followed with his assessment of the blogosphere from both a personal and a professional point of view
I did say that, I remember now... however...if the offer for £million comes in I may eat my words...
@dovegreyreader Loved your talk at TLC (don't monetise blog, don't give in to big media). Inspiring!
Oh ...alright then.
@dovegreyreader blogging is a conversation. And manners are very important
Yes, this was my line about creating a welcoming online space in response to a thread about what makes a successful blog. Well succesful or not, and apart from attempting to offer interesting content, I feel that replying in comments is a common courtesy that I would offer if we met and conversed anywhere else, so why not on here, and I talked about us as an inclusive welcoming community (and no one seemed to be sick in a bucket at the suggestion) and long may it last.
@dovegreyreader writes for the pleasure of sharing a good book with people...
But of course and here the freedom of the blogger became clear. Freedom to chose what we read, what we write about, and I would add how much space it takes up, all severe constraints on the lit pages reviewer to say nothing of doing a job to earn a living versus doing something for pleasure.
Well except for that one...you know that one and I also explained how clever you are at spotting the books that start off on the Now Reading sidebar and then mysteriously disappear.
Yes, subjective and how we all read a book and the complete freedom that allows.
As an aside my thanks to Nancy who unwittingly sent me this very relevant link to an article in Vanity Fair the day before, Why are Literary Critics so dismayed by Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch and its success. There is another whole debate to be had around that piece, but suffice to say I did make it plain that this wasn't a sycophantic community where everyone had to agree with me about the books I have enjoyed and choose to write about... that we could debate and discuss and disagree in comments without spilling blood...but that where The Goldfinch was concerned I had enough love for the book to cope with any amount of naysaying.
And brace yourselves because I am about to do a Goldfinch with The Paying Guests, the new novel by Sarah Waters to be published on August 28.
There was lots more discussion but hopefully you get the gist, and know that I took you all with me in my mind as I spoke, but it also reminded me how innovative we can be here too, and as we come to our final week of reading this year's chunkster (Final part of A Suitable Boy on Saturday) I thought of 2009-10 that amazing first year of the Big Team Read...and me stupidly eagerly saying on Bloomsday, 'How hard can it be to read sixty pages a month for a year, let's do it and I'll post about it on the 16th of every month and we'll finish on Bloomsday a year hence,' and so lots of us did and Team Ulysses was born.
And then a year later we did turn the final page of the book with that HUGE sense of achievement. I actually went shopping in Launceston that same afternoon and no one seemed in the least bit interested when I approached them in the street to tell them I had read Ulysses, (no of course I didn't really, I'm English) so how good that so many of you were and still are out there reading here and contributing.
So Bloomsday/Blogsday feels like a good day to celebrate the reach and the innovation that the blogosphere allows (and not just on here but on millions of other blogs too) and which perhaps James Joyce might have raised a glass to as well.