On Wednesday I spoke at an inspiring event, the LitNet NI Literature Forum in Belfast. It was hosted by the Arts Council Of Northern Ireland and organised by Catherine McInerney of LitNet NI.
It brings together an amazing range of voices and opinions from the literary and publishing sectors in Northern Ireland, from agents to writers, arts officers to librarians, with a good sprinkling of organisers, poets, publishers and academics.
There was a great energy in the room and while the forum is ony a few months old, it seems to have a real head of steam. My read on the future was that it was secure. It seems ready to grow beyond its original founding and beyond indeed the LitNet NI beginnings into a truly inclusive voice for the literary & commercial publishing and reading sector in Norther Ireland.
So you can see why I found it inspiring, but there’s more.
The same day and the same event was the venue for the sectoral launch of PublishingNI a new company dedicated to promoting and growing Northern Irish publishing and writing.
There’s a real energy and passion at work in Northern Irish publishing sector right now and I was excited and pleased to be part of it.
As for what I spoke about, well I started off with a dispassionate overview of how digital publishing and distribution were fundamentally reshaping the world of books and literature, changing models we have come to see as ‘the right way’ of doing things. I got a little carried away towards the end of the talk and discussed the need for a concerted response from the entire reading and writing sector to the encroachment of technology firms intent and leading the sector in a direction of their choosing. Maybe it was in the air.
But then again, maybe it was a bit intemperate, but it’s not untrue.