Not mine, but Robin’s, from The Not-Ever-Still Life. Not only was she brave enough to rock up to BlogHer ’11 for her first conference, but she kindly agreed to share her experience with us all, too. Yay.
I want to tell you about BlogHer, the massive blogging conference that just wrapped up in San Diego, but I’ve realized that it was so dense, so multi-faceted, so different for every attendee, that I can only tell you about my BlogHer.
It. was. amazing.
Talking about blogging
I introduced myself a thousand times. “I’m Robin. @noteverstill on Twitter.” I would wait for the chuckle, and explain. “My tagline is ‘We had three kids in four years. Nothing here holds still.’” Mombloggers laughed. Other bloggers walked away.“I’m Robin. I blog about my life.” Don’t we all do that?“I’m Robin. I concentrate on memoir. I like to think of each post as a piece in an ongoing narrative.” I found myself learning more about my blog in the exercise of saying hello than I had anticipated. I hadn’t even attended a session yet.
There were 3600 attendees, and they all came with different perspectives: photographers who blog; designers who blog; PR pros who blog; extreme couponers who blog; foodies who blog. (I like the foodies who blog.) I had to figure out my persona. By default I’ve always categorized myself as a momblogger because I write so much about my kids but after this weekend I’m more focused: I’m a writer. My family is my subject and my blog is my medium, but me? I’m a writer. I’m here to hone my writing as craft. It took explaining myself a thousand ways to identify that.
Friends and family who don’t blog looked at me sideways when I would say I was traveling for a blogging conference. This is a solitary pursuit, chased from the corner of my couch most days. It was so instructive to talk about this medium with other women in the same pursuit.
I attended fewer sessions than I expected; the pace of the conference is intense and the non-session distractions are many (and tantalizing). But I had some remarkable moments in conference sessions. I chose sessions that would inspire me, and they did. But if you went, you could have attended sessions to improve your writing skills, or to introduce yourself to other bloggers who write about similar topics, or experiential sessions like creating a vision board or learning Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” dance.
Beyond the sessions
There were so many things to do! I attended a sunrise yoga class and a lunch sponsored by California Raisins. I spent some time in the Expo Hall, where I could have acquired enough swag to fill a small airplane. It took some discipline to restrict my collections to what I could carry home myself. Freebies are nice but I had to remind myself that paying to ship home free things meant that they weren’t really free. Instead I concentrated on collecting business cards and distributing my own card as appropriate.
I got home at about 3am after a long cross-country set of flights, and woke up at 6 to my three littles jumping all over me and giving me word-for-word recaps of the days I missed. I’ll spend my evenings this week writing follow-up emails to the connections I made and tweeting with my new friends. I’ll spend the next few months thinking about my newly-realized identity and what I want to do, now that I understand I want to call myself a writer.
On Friday morning, I emailed my husband to say, “they just announced BlogHer ‘12. August 2-5: NYC.” He immediately responded: “I’ll put it on my calendar.” So the other task I’ll be attending to in the next few weeks is registering for next year’s conference.
I came home from this conference exhausted and invigorated and overwhelmed in the best possible sense of the world. I learned about myself and my goals and I met a million wonderful new people. I hugged three of my favorite writers and told them what their words mean to me. And I’m already looking forward to next year, and doing it all again.