Edinburgh’s Lit Salon proves a success for both writers and observers

Every last Tuesday of the month The Wash Bar on the Mound opens its doors for an evening of literary tête-à-tête.  Organised and hosted by ‘The Edinburgh City of Literature Trust’, the ‘Lit Salon’ is aimed at anyone and everyone with an interest in literature – be it writing, reading, editing, publishing, or simply looking for the scoop on literary events around the city.

Edinburgh was the world’s first ever city to be named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2004.  It is in celebration of this that The Edinburgh City of Literature trust, a registered charity, was founded to promote the wealth of literary history, events and projects that Edinburgh has to offer.  The Lit Salon provides a way in to these literary goings-on, as both an informative and social occasion.  The format of the evening is half an hour of mingling followed by a series of short talks from guest speakers and announcements of unmissable local events.

Whilst walking into a compact room humming with the chatter of writers and event organisers may fill some with a delightfully warm and fuzzy feeling, for others it presents nothing other than abject fear.  But with a free glass of wine on entry and a team of friendly faces to welcome any new (or indeed old) comers, the Lit Salon did not have the feeling of a pretentious soirée.

Every attendee was asked to wear a name label bearing the words ‘Ask me about…’ (to be filled in according to literary interests and/or bravery), providing good conversation starters.  Do not be surprised if you suddenly find yourself rubbing shoulders with the next rising star of the Book Festival and do look out for big names on the Edinburgh literary scene; this is the place to find your literary confidence and start networking.

On this occasion the Society of Young Publishers introduced themselves and talked about opportunities for anyone with ten or less years of publishing experience who is looking to get into the industry.  Two of the four young women representing the society were recent Edinburgh University graduates who now support exciting jobs in this sector, so one needn’t look far for inspiration. The editor-in-chief of Butcher’s Dog – a new poetry magazine – gave us a flavour of the publication, describing its attempt to inspire and promote budding writers.

The final talk came from Edinburgh City of Literature themselves, who informed the audience of their aim to celebrate Robert Louis Stevenson Day, as always, with no less than a week of events beginning 9 November.  This year the theme is ‘RLS on stage and screen’.  They advertised a wide range of activities: from walking tours to a pirates-in-film themed pub quiz at Teviot Row House.

Still gleaming with the success of the Edinburgh Book Festival, which took place over August, there was an unmistakable pang of community spirit in the air at the Lit Salon, despite the fact that I, for one, knew nobody.  The result was that I came away feeling delightfully more informed, less terrified and in need of a LinkedIn account… pronto!  Whether you can spare a couple of hours of your Tuesday night or are just passing by on your way home from the library, it is worth dipping in to see how you can get involved and to pick up a handful of flyers.  Wine is poured at 6pm.

Image: Flickr/Steve Baty

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