I attended a blogging conference this weekend. I have never been to a blogging conference before. In fact I have never been to any conference before. I follow some pretty amazing bloggers, Jen, of People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Bethany, of I Love Them Most when they are Sleeping, Stephanie, of Binkies and Briefcases, Ninja Mom, Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva..... There are just too many to mention and now - after this conference - I am following so many more! These and many other wonderful writers converged in a vortex of awesome in Baltimore, MD, on the beautiful campus of University of Notre Dame, Maryland. The conference consisted of a cocktail reception, a full day of classes, and a Retro Prom hosted by NickMom.
I was encouraged to go to this conference by some really great friends and a really great husband. I did not know what to expect going in, but I wanted to learn what to do to become a better writer. I wanted to find out if I should continue to write or throw in the towel on this whole blogging thing. I also wanted to meet some of those above mentioned bloggers that I stalk admire.
The first blogger that I started following was Jen of People I Want To Punch In The Throat. When I read her Overachieving Elf on the Shelf, I felt like we shared the same brain. Her words were exactly what I thought and felt. From that moment on, I started writing increasingly. I used the fact that so many people loved her and her thoughts that maybe they would love me and mine. I reached out to her through email, very early on, and asked her questions about blogging to which she RESPONDED! I was blown away. It was like getting an email from an author you really admire and having your questions answered. Duh!
The first night of the conference was a reception and cocktail part hosted by Full Tilt Beer. (I would highly recommend the Raspberry Wheat.) I met some wonderful women and one man. Let me tell you - he had balls to be the only man at this all woman conference. His blog is awesome. Check it out. Then I spotted Jen of People I Want To Punch In The Throat. I confirmed with anyone that was in earshot that it was indeed, THE Jen. Then, I made my way over to her. I know her, I read her, I follow her, I love her, she is the reason I started blogging. I instantly reached out to give her a hug.... but midway in, I realized that, 'Wait, she has no idea who the fuck I am, maybe I should not be accosting her!' Then, I kind of pulled back as she, very graciously, was accepting of the hug. SO it became this awkward hug, no hug, full on hug, thing. To make matters worse, after I got informed consent for the hug, I think I held the hug too long. (I may have smelled her hair, too.) Oh, and I probably interrupted her conversations, which left a group of wonderful ladies standing there witnessing my aggressive awkwardness. Not sure if THE Jen remembers me, but I have to apologize publicly to her anyone else that had to witness that. I am sorry.
Jen’s kindness and the warmth and acceptance of all the “big names” there was uplifting. Ninja Mom writes some really funny stuff and I already loved her before meeting her. But in person she is 10 times more hilarious. She needs her own show. Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying is such a wealth of information that she dispels freely and with patience. The founder of Blog U, Stephanie from Binkies and Breifcases has to be one of the kindest souls I have ever encountered. Not to mention my own personal idol Bethany Meyer, of I Love Them Most When They Are Sleeping. We drove to the conference together and I am forever thankful that she befriends me and gave me a second chance! I met some people that I connected with immediately. Teri, of Snarkfest, and Somewhat Sane Mom are, absolutely, my kind of people. Tiffany of Committedwife.com is on the mark. Keia, of Two Storied House is extremely talented, Kristi, of Finding Ninee made be cry at her open mic appearance. Jenn, of Something Clever 2.0 , is very funny and a vision to boot. So many made their mark on me that I am sorry I can't list them all.
I walked away with so much from the Blog U 14 conference - the classes and at the open mic nights. I learned that I LOVE when I read my work aloud and people respond by laughing and snorting. I learned that I am allowed to consider myself a writer. I learned that I have to edit and walk away and edit and walk away and then edit one more time before I hit “publish.” I learned that social media is my friend! Who knew? I learned that a going to a prom in your 40s is so much better than when you are in your teens. I enthusiastically recommend it. I also learned that I can still do the running man, the roger rabbit (but not as good as my adorable roommate Jenn Rian as witnessed here!) and the cabbage patch but will pay for it in the morning and possibly a few mornings after that. I am going to continue to write. I am even going to try to get paid for my writing. The BlogU 14 conference left me feeling encouraged, inspired and gave me more knowledge than I though was available.
Us writers - wow that feels good to say - are a strange bunch. Many of us are socially awkward. Some of us talk, nonstop. Some of us find it hard to speak. Some of us get too nervous around large groups. Some of us have to decompress after too much interaction with people. Some of us LOVE being the center of attention. Some of us dance to footloose like we were IN the movie. Some of us like to give hugs without considering whether the recipient is game. The thing is, we all want to be heard. We all have a voice and we all become free and less inhibited when we start writing. We are part of a very unique tribe. A tribe that I am so humbled and proud to feel a part of.
P.S. I just have to mention a few more bloggers that I was so impressed with (in no particular order):
Keeper of The Fruit Loops
Kissing the Frog
Ditching the Masks
The Mom of the Year
Bad Parenting Moments