As every blogger knows, there’s a plethora of competition out there and one of the most over-subscribed categories is the lit-blog. From fiction to poetry, non-fiction to critical discourse, more and more writers are using the web to air their views – in conversational and more academic tones – and gain a rewarding readership in the process. So, how can up-and-coming lit-bloggers stand out from the crowd?
Taste is a generational thing it seems, as younger bloggers (and their potential readers) are turning away from established publications such as the New Yorker and London Review of Books, in search of something edgier and more suitably contemporary in its tastes (to which The Paris Review Daily has adapted with aplomb). After all, this is the Twitter era, when a lengthy piece goes over the head and a two-line summary strikes straight at the heart.
And yet, the lit-blogger of today is often someone who wants to bring in-depth study back, to spread the word on the intellectual benefits of close-reading, while singing the praises of tomorrow’s creative direction. To this end, publications like The New Inquiry and HTMLGiant are gathering a substantial following, in no small part due to innovative, graphic-heavy presentation.
Nevertheless, these are still giants in the lit-blog ocean. How can a minnow be inspired to take on a whale? That’s where Arts festivals come in and their influential season starts now. Here are five of the best:
Dubbed the ‘Woodstock of the mind’ by Bill Clinton, make a space in your diary for a trip to Wales’ Brecon Beacons somewhere from 22nd May to 1st June, as the Hay is the literary festival of the bibliophile’s calendar. Covered by the BBC, organisers and contributors aim to transform thinking through great ideas – a perfect catalyst for lit-bloggers starting out. (See hayfestival.com)
For those who don’t want to stray too far from the capital, Stoke Newington is holding its fifth anniversary festival from 6th to 8th June. Sure to attract the brightest London brains. (See stokenewingtonliteraryfestival.com)
A relative newbie on the circuit, the Harrogate was launched only two years ago, but already hosts some of the biggest literary names. Held at the St. George’s hotel from 10th to 14th July, its aim is to promote debate in grand Edwardian settings with fellow-minded people. Good fodder for the more critical discourse-focused lit-blogger. (See harrogateinternationalfestivals.com)
Cornwall is the staycation destination for most Brits, and what better than combining sun with the Arts? Port Eliot runs from 24th to 27th July and, in its own words, is a “celebration of words, music, imagination, ideas, nature, food, fashion, flowers, laughter, exploration and fun”. Pretty much what any new lit-blog should be looking to combine, really. (See porteliotfestival.com)
Later in summer (hoping, of course, the UK does indeed get a summer, rather than a damp, drizzly squid of a season), you might wish to head over to Norfolk for Voewood, whose motto is “decadence has never been so civilised”. The brainchild of “a rare book dealer with a rock and roll heart”, it describes itself as “a butterfly, a party, a culture clash, an artistic shindig”. If you like your literary jaunts with historic buildings thrown in, then this is the festival for you. Join likeminded writers, thinkers and drinkers from 15th to 17th August and hopefully come away floating on a cloud of constructive dreams. (See voewood.com)