The 1,001st Post

I only noticed after I’d posted that my previous post was my 1,000th. Given that I average around 1,000 words a post, the Reading Room has about a million words of content. What a thought!

It’s fitting to mark the occasion, then, with an account of the first ever publisher/blogger event I’ve ever attended which took place in London yesterday. It was at the elegant offices of Bloomsbury publishing in Bedford Square. We were in a very lovely function room, full of bookcases of notable Bloomsbury titles, with rich duck egg blue walls, a marble fireplace and two glittering chandeliers. It was quite overwhelming to meet in person all the UK bloggers I’ve been following. Before I arrived, I’d felt a little nervous, but the strange thing was, as soon as I saw the person before me, I knew that we already knew one another well. Bloggers are their blogs incarnate, with a little extra something, the depth of character that not all reviews can reach. It was wonderful to meet Simon from Stuck in a Book, and Karen from Cornflower (who is a darling) and Jackie from Farm Lane Books, who is such a gentle, dignified person. I was particularly pleased to meet bloggers I’ve followed for years – Kim at Reading Matters, Elaine at Random Jottings and Lynne from Dovegreyreader. The remark that summed up the day for me came from Lynne, who was telling me that after all these years she still just loves book blogging. I was touched by the genuine passion in her voice, and knew that we all shared it.

What made the day so special, however, was the warmth of welcome we received from Bloomsbury publishers. These people are just so lovely. They had set out a wonderful tea for us all, and knowing I don’t eat cake or bread, produced this amazing bowl of fruit for me. I have to mention as well that they were conspicuously gorgeous, the women coming in all imaginable varieties of English rose, and the gentleman in their midst looked like he had just walked off the set of a movie with Hugh Grant in the lead.  Really, we were in the most aesthetically pleasing circumstances possible. And then they started bringing in the authors.

I think of authors as self-contained souls, happy to spend the majority of their time in splendid isolation, researching or writing their books. So the ability that they all seem able to summon at will, to talk about their work before daunting audiences, never fails to amaze me. Debut author Suzanne Joinson spoke very amusingly about the publication of her novel, A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, and Kate Summerscale, whose Suspicions of Mister Whicher many bloggers will recall, talked about her forthcoming book, Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace, based on the diaries of a Victorian woman drawn into a web of scandal and divorce. Also, William Boyd turned up. It was publication day for his latest book, Waiting for Sunrise, and he had been doing the rounds of London bookstores, signing copies. He is this huge man, built for striding around Scottish glens by the looks of it, rather than hunching over keyboards. After my various disasters with Julian Barnes I am happy to say that I did not disgrace myself, and spoke in whole, relatively coherent sentences, despite the starry gathering.

I have to admit that I am fascinated by the quality of charisma. I am an inveterate people-watcher, always on the lookout for new species of extraordinary human being. The person whom I found most hypnotic was one of the top editors at Bloomsbury, who talked for a while about the new list, books that she felt so passionately about that she just wanted to ‘lie on the floor and weep’. How to describe her? She looked expensive; someone who knew her own mind, who wouldn’t flinch at taking command. Funnily enough, she reminded me of a former Head of Department of mine, a woman who distinguished herself in the first place by wearing designer labels, notable in the crowd of female academics whose dress tends towards either the bag lady or the headmistress. She was terrifyingly clever and somewhat scary. She had the instant effect on me of bringing out my inner girl guide, and I would rush to detail all the good academic deeds I had done lately, listing articles I was working on to her gentle bemusement. When I took Mister Litlove to a department drinks do, he ended up alongside her in the crush, and being socially confident he launched into a rather provocative, not to say teasing conversation with her. I could barely bring myself to watch; I felt sure she would skin him alive. But lo and behold, she was laughing merrily and fluttering her eyelashes at him. So Mister Litlove lived to bounce, Tigger-like, through another day and I lost only a few years off my lifespan. She was someone whose personal power knocked you down first, and only in her wake did you realise how warm and gracious she could be. This editor at Bloomsbury reminded me very much of her.

And so the day drew to an end for me, as I had to get back to Cambridge. I had a rather lovely walk to the train station through twilit London, and although I’d been afraid of the crush on the commute home, it wasn’t bad at all. It was the end of the day and everyone was quiet and tired, lulled to peacefulness by the rocking of the train. I sat and hugged my new books and knew that almost six years and a thousand posts into blogging, it was a thrill to think it had new pleasures still in store for me.

55 thoughts on “The 1,001st Post

  1. First of all, congratulations on reaching such a blogging milestone! Here’s to many thousands more posts from you🙂 The Bloomsbury get-together sounds so lovely. I had the opportunity to spend a little time with fellow bloggers in person last year and you’re absolutely right: most people are just their blogs incarnate, and it’s so easy to feel you’re in the presence of old friends.

    I have a review copy of Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace and absolutely can’t wait to read it. And I’ve heard some buzz about Suzanne Joinson’s novel and it sounds like something I might really enjoy. Hooray for exciting new books🙂

    • Oh lucky you, Nymeth! I am very much hoping a copy of Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace will come my way – I am sure it is something we would both love. And thank you for your lovely comment. I do so love book conversations with bloggers like yourself that I know I couldn’t give it up!🙂

  2. It was such a pleasure to meet you yesterday, Victoria, and I just wish we’d had longer to talk, but it was a real treat of an occasion which you describe perfectly! Let’s hope we get the chance to get together again soon, and meanwhile, congratulations on your major milestone.

    • I was SO happy to meet you! And I do hope we’ll have another chance. I think it’s likely, particularly if Bloomsbury get the bit between their teeth, which I can only encourage them to do!🙂

  3. Congratulations on reaching such a total. Like Nymeth said, may there be many more. The event sounds fantastic (ahhh more true crime from Kate Summerscale), but I think the best bit of this monumental post for me was your description of your former Head of Department. I love the idea of a lady who looks expensive (even if I could never manage that myself) and would probably envy her wardrobe up and down.

    • Oh Jodie, you would have appreciated my Head of Department. She was quite a woman, and I miss her still. She is edifying Americans at Princetown now, and I hope they know how lucky they are!🙂

  4. Congratulations: 1000 is a real milestone, and it sounds like this event, which you describe so evocatively, was a good way to refresh your enthusiasm.

    The next time I make it to the U.K., I am determined to add myself to the list of bloggers you’ve met in person (though I can’t promise to overwhelm with charisma, I’m afraid, much less to look expensive).

  5. Congrats on your milestone! What a wonderful day you had too. Charisma is an interesting thing, isn’t it? It is something I certainly don’t possess but I take comfort in knowing that a marjority of people don’t have it at all either and then the rest who do lie on a charisma continuum with very few at the far end. Honestly though, while charismatic people are exciting, their intensity tends to make me tired very fast so I am rather glad I don’t know or meet very many of them.🙂

  6. Congratulations on your 1000th post! That is a fantastic achievement! It was lovely to meet you too. I only wish we could have had more time to talk – hopefully we’ll get another chance some time soon. I don’t think anyone has ever described me as dignified before, but thank you for the description. It was very interesting to read your thoughts on the day. I’m not sure I agree on the tigger description, but perhaps I have a lot of friends with boundless enthusiasm for everything and so am used to it a bit more, or maybe it is just spending so much time with young boys? I love your mention of your Julian Barnes meeting. I had a similar disaster when I met David Mitchell. I became a silly fan girl and lost the ability to talk too. I managed to keep it together yesterday too🙂 Hope to see you again soon.

    • Jackie – I was SO delighted to meet you and yes, I do hope we get the chance to chat again. I don’t know of any greater energy source than young boys (where DO they get it from?) so that might well influence you. Mine has certainly reached a calmer state at 17!🙂 And I am so relieved that I’m not the only person to suffer from paralysis in front of the mighty and famous. Thank you for the solidarity!

  7. Wow! What a milestone and may there be many more! Your bloggettogether sounds lovely too and I am glad all those internet friends turned out so true to their blogs. And William Boyd too, a writer I am growing increasingly interested by – hope to get his new book soon. Have you go one? Will there be a blog on it?

    • Oh indeed I do have a copy of the new book. There will most certainly be a blog on it, once I’ve finished Daniel Deronda and Justin Cartwright’s Other People’s Money. Plus, thanks to Bloomsbury I also have a copy to giveaway, so don’t forget to drop by when that happens and put your name in the hat. It’s a shame we can’t have a blog get together with blogless blog buddies too – wouldn’t it be nice if we could meet?

  8. Congratulations. I’ve been reading your posts since almost the beginning. I think you were one of the first people to comment on my original blog (I still remember the lovely comment!).

    It sounds like it was a wonderful day you had yesterday. You’ve described it so beautifully.

    Here’s to thousands and thousands more words!

    • Anne Camille – we are old, old blog friends, yes?🙂 I’m so delighted your blogging again and now I have your posts in my feed reader, so I can keep better track. If only I had got better at blog housekeeping over the years, rather than worse! Still, I may improve yet.🙂

      • Ah, yes, that we are! I’ve been pretty bad at the links housekeeping too! And, I haven’t figured out how to get some of my ID’s to link to my new blog, rather than to the old one. But, it’s still out there, with the last post pointing to the new place.

        You have my admiration for your output here — consistent and consistently good.

  9. It was lovely to meet you, too, after all these years🙂 I’m only sorry we didn’t get a better chance to talk; I think I was overwhelmed by all those editors in the room pressing books into my hands with the words, ‘you must read this’. I think it’s very clear that everyone at Bloomsbury is passionate about what they do; their enthusiasm was infectious.

    • Kim you are so right – it was wonderful to meet a bunch of such passionate and enthusiastic publishers. And I’m really looking forward to the new imprint, which sounded very exciting. I am thrilled that we finally got to meet, and hope that we’ll do so again one day soon.

  10. What a wonderful confluence of circumstances! I’ve been lucky enough to meet several bloggers in the last few years (including Simon). I’ve found that it’s much easier to meet blogging friends for the first time than other people because by the time we meet we aren’t strangers at all. We get to skip over the whole difficult “getting to know you” stage in which we have to figure out what we have in common and what to talk about.

    • Teresa, that is so right. It really felt like I knew them all already, which made such a relaxed atmosphere. In fact, we were all so chatty that the editors kept sitting us down to listen quietly to authors so the poor receptionists could hear themselves think! And how nice that we both know Simon now. It sort of strengthens the network to have mutual friends.

  11. It’s nice to hear that excitement in your voice, Litlove, and the pleasure, too, that a social gathering went off tremendously well. How sensitive you are in your reviews and appraisals, and so I’m even gladder that you had such an enjoyable experience–part of the reward of your years of writing. Also glad to have read that they had fruit for you.

    • My friend, they had fruit both real and figurative for me!🙂 thank you for your lovely comment. I am not often at ease in social gathering, but this one went off just fine because I felt I was surrounded by friends, and the publishers really did work at making us feel like valued guests. It was altogether a lovely experience.

  12. Wow, a million words. Just think if you were being paid for them like a serial author–you’d be rich! Alas, I think we are the fortunate ones for getting to read them! What a cool opportunity–thanks for sharing the experience. It sounds like a really lovely time and I would love to meet the bloggers you mention as I follow them all myself! Did you get a copy of Kate Summerscale’s new book? It’s already on my wishlist as is the Boyd novel. And I’m sorry–I could never imagine you would ever disgrace yourself!

    • Oh I KNOW! If I only had a penny for each word, it wouldn’t be a bad income, would it? Still, I’m all for blogging being its own reward at times, particularly when it brings me dear friends like you. I wish you could come over to Bloomsbury too!! I am hoping for a copy of the Kate Summerscale (not out yet), but thanks to the meeting I do have a copy of the William Boyd to give away in a week or so. So watch this space. And bless you for thinking I couldn’t disgrace myself.

  13. I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk for longer – it was such a wonderful day, and I was so delighted to meet you.
    One thing I have learnt from various publishing things is that publishers at every level always look impossibly glamorous – me, meanwhile, trying to find a pair of shoes which don’t have a hole in them.

    And many congratulations on your 1001th post, and your million words! Definitely an exceptional achievement.

    • Simon – lol! On experience so far, you are clearly right about publishers and their monopoly on glamour. They should hang out in the SCR and see how the other half lives!🙂 I was so delighted to meet you at last and do hope we’ll meet again at some point. I didn’t notice a lack of glamour on your own part, I confess, although I didn’t check out your shoes.😉 You must surely be nearing 1,000 posts yourself, no?

  14. Congrats to you litlove, big time! That’s quite an achievement, 1000 posts, make that 1001, a million words! And this one too, confirming why I enjoy and keep coming here… what a delightful read! I’ve LOL several times you know. What an interesting group to hang out with, and to meet those ‘ordinary people’ who are published writers. This is what I was thinking as I read your post: the scenes you’ve described here could make an amusing screenplay for a movie, an indie film.🙂

    • Arti – oh I love that idea! It would be a lot of fun to try a screenplay although I don’t think I know enough about films to do it really. I will hope that you produce one for our delectation instead! And thank you for your lovely comment – you are a very valued guest in the Reading Room, you know!

  15. Happy 1001th post, Litlove! The publishing event sounds really brilliant — I love hearing about books that are going to happen, and it’s always so nice to meet book bloggers. They are just lovely people.

    • Jenny you speak the truth there. Much like I always found modern linguists to be lovely in the university setting, I agree entirely that book bloggers are lovely in the wider world. I only wish you could make it over to Bloomsbury too. That would be fun, no?

  16. Congratulations on the occasion of your 1001st.
    As for the Bloomsbury afternoon, where did the time go? We said hello walking through the door, sat at the same table, admired your fruit salad and still didn’t get a chance to talk properly! There was just so much going on. You must have worked the left hand side of the room while I moved down the right!

    • Lizzy I am SO glad you left a comment as I could not recall the name of your blog, despite trying hard to fix it in my mind (how I miss my memory!!). Now I will be able to find you and visit you virtually, at least. I know – where did the afternoon go? The thing was, when we were seated we had to be quiet, and then when we got up we were swept in different directions. Here’s to meeting again soon – it would be lovely to actually have a chance to chat!

  17. Congratulations for the 10 001 posts! It’s great you wrote a post about blogging for this one. It must have been great to meet the bloggers you’re used to reading.

    • Emma, it was a treat. I haven’t met that many bloggers over the years – in fact I probably trebled the number of virtual acquaintances who have become real acquaintances overnight!🙂

  18. Hi VIctoria – gorgeous day the other day and wonderful to meet so many fellow bloggers. Here is my take on the day

    http://randomjottings.typepad.com/random_jottings_of_an_ope/2012/02/all-i-want-is-a-room-in-bloombury.html

    and I have to say that I gushed all over William Boyd and insisted I had a photo taken (it is up on my blog) and generally drooled. He took it all very well, I daresay he is used to middle aged women droning on. He very kindly signed a copy of his book for my daughter in Oz who is a huge fan and it is being posted today.#

    So many interesting people to talk to and I know I missed out on chatting to many. It was a simply llovely occasion and hope we can meet up again soon when I come to Cambridge.

    • Elaine – that’s a great photo of you and William Boyd! He seemed very nice, and if a bit bemused probably because he’d been signing books all day, poor man. I’m sure we’ll meet again soon and have a chance for more chats!

  19. What a wonderful day – how lovely to meet other bloggers and several writers. I loved your description of the Bloomsbury editor – I can just see this kind of person. So intimidating, but so charismatic at the same time.

    And a big congratulations on your million words! That is very exciting.

    • Michelle – it was a delight – it’s a shame that we have not yet had an opportunity to even be in the same country! The editor made me laugh – I swear she was separated from my head of department at birth…

  20. Congratulations on your 1001th post! Like Caroline I thought of Scheherazade which seems apt – but not too apt, I don’t picture Mister Litlove as having that sort of character.

    I love the thought of an expensively dressed Bloomsbury editor wanting to lie on the floor and weep with love for her list. That’s what publishing should be about!

    • Helen – lol!!! I will pass that on to Mister Litlove, who will be delighted, I am sure. And lol for your comment about the editor, too! I really did feel that I was in a sort of dream bookworld. It was extremely pleasant.🙂

    • Sshaver – I think it’s quite possible that either of those two bloggers might have put a name to the editor. I may just remain discreet, but you could certainly track her down without too much Sherlockian deduction!🙂

  21. My goodness, I’m green with envy! But you wrote about this event so beautifully, I almost felt as if I were there🙂
    I’m so glad you enjoyed this, and that publishers are courting book bloggers with such warmth and elegance! Makes you feel rather important, doesn’t it?

    • Becca – it went straight to my head. But daily life generally brings one back down to earth!🙂 It was a lovely day, and a shame you couldn’t be there, too. Although being on another continent is a good excuse.

  22. Congratulations on reaching such a significant milestone. I believe I only have about 230 posts so I am in awe of what you have accomplished. How exciting that you were able to meet with other bloggers and have such a lovely day with the folks from Bloomsbury. I’d say you celebrated your milestone in style!

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