Material Witness celebrates its 10th birthday in 2016 and to celebrate I'm going to do something completely different - give a workshop on blogging at the Gap Festival in June.
This is a particularly special engagement for me as the Gap Festival takes place in the Oxfordshire villages of Goring and Streatley, the first of which I grew up in. This year is the second edition of a festival that brings together speakers and performers across a wide cultural spectrum after a successful inauguration in 2014. It's exciting for me to find myself as a Supporting Act to the likes of Ruby Turner, Lucy Worsley and Sir Peter Stothard - and also on the same bill as old friend Andy Ankerson, a local DJ of some note, who has accomplished much despite his steadfast refusal to play Dancing Queen.
The 10 year mark for the blog also seems like a good time to reflect on what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. It also marks the launch of a second blog, Mainlyontheplain.com, where I'm writing about Spain, where we currently live.
Ten years on I still get a big kick out of Material Witness and I'm really enjoying the different challenge of the new site. The primary reason for having them is because I love writing. At heart I am still a reporter, and I still get a thrill out of turning a blank page and an idea into a story. I write Material Witness because I love crime fiction and want to introduce people to new books and new authors. And the Spain blog because I want to help people appreciate what a wonderful country this is, and just how rich in experience it is beyond Barcelona and the Costas.
And so at the Gap Festival I'll talk about how to set up a blog and give some tips on how to make it successful - technical stuff on platforms, social media, SEO on so on. That's just a small part of it, however, and mainly I will look to talk about what makes a blog successful. I judge the success of my blogs purely from the pleasure I derive from writing them. They are hobbies, not a career. If you'd like to come along the workshop takes place on Sunday June 19th at 2.30pm in the Garden Room of the Goring Village Hall, a venue I remember fondly from childhood birthday parties and cricket club jumble sales.
I'm also looking forward to taking in a number of other events over the weekend, including Andy's Abba-free set, details of all of which are on the Festival's website.