In which I think about ChipLitFest and this very blog

So, lovely blog readists, I have had a delightful weekend. Simply delightful. The sun was out. The cake was chocolately. The wine was pink and sparkling, and there was a literary festival to attend. Really, what more could a prematurely middle-aged and unapologetically middle-class girl ask for?

Saturday was spent at Chipping Norton Literary Festival, stroking lovely books and eating excellent cake. We even managed to squeeze in a couple of talks. Both were aimed at writers, one discussing why writers still need agents, even given the self-publishing boom, and the other looking at social media for writers.

To be 100% honest it was really the agent talk that I was most interested in. The Social Media session was something I’d booked because it fit in well with the other things we were doing and I thought it might be mildly time-passingly interesting, but actually, that was the session that provided the most food for thought. Liz Fenwick, who led the session, is a fellow RNA member and a published novelist. She talked, interestingly and with great humour, about a whole host of social media platforms – twitter, facebook, pinterest, goodreads etc.

She also talked about blogs, and what we, as writers, should and (perhaps) shouldn’t talk about on our blogs, tweets and facebook pages. She suggested, quite rightly I suspect, that talking about religion and politics risks alienating at least some potential readers. Now, as the observant amongst you may have noticed, I do, on occasion, get a tiny bit political on this blog. I, it has to be acknowledged, Have Views. Now I try to ensure that those views are reasonably measured and researched, but I’m not entirely above having a little rant about Michael Gove either.

Now lots of you won’t find that off-putting at all, and I, of course, think all the views expressed here are entirely normal and  rational and right-thinking. So how could anyone find them off-putting? But then, if I found a writer who regularly blogged very right wing or reactionary material, I would probably find that somewhat tiresome myself. Generally, we are all much less prone to consider a person ranty and over-the-top if we tend to agree with what they’re saying.

So I guess the question is, what is the point of this blog? Is it just a place for me to write what I like in the hope that you might be interested, or should I be viewing it more definitely as part of my writerly brand? When I started the blog I said it would “be filled with whatever thoughts pop into my brain. My only commitment to you is that I will endeavour, whereever possible, to think only interesting thoughts.” The idea was that this would be a little corner of the internet where I could write things about stuff that seemed interesting or worth mentioning and that possibly there would be people (I was thinking anywhere up to about eight of you) who would find some of those things interesting too.

But I also want to be a published novelist. I have a full novel manuscript out under consideration with a publisher as I type. When that publisher (or any other in the future) googles me I want them to find someone who doesn’t look like a potential liability. So do I need to put a pin in the bigger rantier opinions and create a blogland more in keeping with the wannabe professional writer image I’m trying to project? Or is a bit of opinion welcome? Would losing it make for a duller blog or is it better when I don’t rant anyway? I have no conclusion today, so please, tell me what you think…

Author: Alison May

Writer. Creative writing teacher. Freelance trainer in the voluntary sector. Anything to avoid getting a real job... Aiming to have one of the most eclectic blogs around, because being interested in just one thing suggests a serious breakdown in curiousity.

7 thoughts on “In which I think about ChipLitFest and this very blog”

  1. What I didn’t have time to mention is the your blog should show your voice…that scary thing, and your writing…which yours does. So before you cull all controversial or not so controversial stuff out think about your voice as a writer and your work. Does it fit in? Or does it jar?

    I’m glad you enjoyed the session! I did but I think I spoke too fast…it was the two chocolate brownies I ate in the green room before…sugar high!

    Fingers crossed for the script that’s out.


    1. I think that question of whether the “controversial” stuff fits or jars is key. All my writing definitely has a point of view, but in my fiction I think that’s softened because I work very hard (so so hard!) not to just write polemic but to write characters and situations that are engaging in their own right, not just as channels for my pov. Hmmm.. am still considering and digesting 🙂


  2. Interesting stuff… Most of the blogs I read are poetry ones, but I have certainly been moved to “unfollow” a person’s blog (and thus, their work) on grounds of misogyny or similar. I think I have to agree with Lisa’s “think before you type” comment above – relevant for all sorts of situations, not just writerly – and of course I *do* indeed put my foot in it myself at times… 😉


  3. Broadening this out beyond writing, I think this is the same issue that a lot of professions and employers (I suppose a publisher is an ’employer’ of writers in the loosest sense) are grappling with. It’s the same root cause that means teachers are advised not to have Facebook accounts, and the issue that tripped up that police commissioner girl recently etc. Perhaps it’s because social media is a relatively young forum and we don’t quite know yet how it ‘fits’ whether it is ‘public’ or ‘private’. While I can completely understand caution around it – the internet is a big beast and once something’s out there you have no control where it goes – but at the same time I think it’s a shame. What if you’re a teacher with family in Australia who you’d like to chat to and share photos with?

    I think in time we’ll find a balance and realise that people have lives, personalities and opinions and these can co-exist with being professional and doing your job well quite easily actually.

    On a personal note, I think your political/ opinion blogs are your best writing and any publisher who googled you and found them should be snapping your arm off!


  4. and while I’m in full flow……..

    There is a writer I read regularly-ish (as in would borrow from library or buy from cut price bookshop but wouldn’t put new hardback edition on my birthday list!) and follow on twitter who is obviously died in the wool true blue tory from her tweets. It hasn’t put me off reading the books but it probably has (thinking about it) clarified for me what it was I found irritating about her main character. So as you say her views on twitter probably were already reflected in the character anyway and that was why I was an occasional reader of hers rather than fanatic. So her social media presence just reinforced my subliminal irritation with her character anyway – if that helps at all!


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