BlogHer 08: The beginning, middle, but not so much the end.

Update: You can catch my community keynote reading on you tube here, and
probably all the rest too if you search around. Bring Kleenex for the other ones. But not for mine because…well, ew.

Not your ordinary conference registration table

There’s this funny thing I’ve discovered about comments on blog posts. You can spend hours crafting a long, heartfelt essay about falling in love with your baby, close with some offhanded line about oh…let’s say, lime popsicles, and then 80% of your commenters will weigh in about lime popsicles.

I’m worried that this weekend’s BlogHer conference will be a little like that.

There were so many outstanding moments, fascinating debates, interesting people, and now all anyone wants to yap about is some well-calculated last-minute drama. (And I freaking love Jennster from the bottom of my heart for always being the chick who’s like Hey look! A big pink elephant in the room, and I think it’s drunk!)

For me the highlight of the weekend (besides knowing that there are good people in the world willing to lend a sister their deodorant), was participating in Friday night’s community keynote. If you missed it (and I’m told you can see it here, but I can’t vouch for the link) it was part poetry slam, part open mic night, part thousand-person group hug. Eden Kennedy needs a Nobel prize for putting it together.

Scratch what I just wrote, it was one of the highlights of my life.

Pre-reading nervousness: Yvonne, Lindsay, Casey, Polly, and master organizer Elisa

To the observer it may seem like I just read some silly post about the letches who come to my blog in search of porn, while other bloggers stunned the crowd with eloquence regarding suicide attempts or mental illness or the fear of having a daughter who would rather be run over by a truck than fat–the one that still has me in tears every time I recall Y’s sweet voice at the mic and bare feet on the wooden stage floor. But for me, it was more.

It was validation not that I am good enough, but that this, this blogging thing, is good enough.

Yvonne

Saturday night was an essential reminder that we’re all doing something worthwhile here. Whether it’s cathartic, or healing or simply entertaining, it’s not “just blogging”. It’s good. It’s important. Even a post about pornographic Google hits, or so I’d like to think.

Plus, you were gracious enough to laugh at the right places. Oh, bless you. Bless you.

Because our blogging is important to us bloggers, I bristled a bit at the question directed towards Dooce and Stephanie Klein (who I think was like my husband in a past life or something) in the keynote about writing for yourself versus writing for others. Not that it was a bad question per se, but because there’s always an implication with these kinds of queries that writing you’re paid for, writing that finds an audience, is somehow less than.

Let’s be honest here: We all write for others. All of us.

If we didn’t, we’d be pulling an Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club, furiously scribbling into a marbled composition book in some coffee shop in an unwashed black thrift store turtleneck in the middle of July.

Everyone who writes has a reader in his or her head, real or perceived–a parent, an admired author, Abbie Hoffman, the PTA moms. Sometimes, even today, I picture that tenth grade English teacher who hated my writing. 25 years later it would still be nice to get her wrinkly old thumbs up.

We don’t have to be ashamed about what we do or why we do it. Whether we blog for money or friendship or approval or attention or magical beans. I said it in the first Momosphere panel and I meant it: It’s all good.

Sometimes writing for an audience leads you to a ballroom stage in front of 1000 other writers so you can finally start to banish the voices in your head that tell you you’re not good enough. But that’s not the only place it leads. Maybe your writing leads to you a party where you meet someone who may end up becoming a dear friend for the rest of your life. Maybe it leads you to shake hands with a celebrity.

The ultimate celebrity contact according to Thalia

Maybe your writing leads you to a marketer who wants to advertise on your blog. Maybe it leads you to job offers. Maybe it leads to a conference where you engage in interesting discussions about SEO or camera lenses or why there’s no damn protein at breakfast. Maybe it leads you to a front row seat for Rocco DiSpirito’s very fine nipple shirt.

Nipple DiSpirito

Or maybe this kind of writing leads you to contribute to a book. And subsequently, to meet dozens of fantastic women who graciously paid cash money to buy it. Yes, I know they’re actually paying cash money because Alice and Amy are in it, but I was giddy to be along for the ride.

So giddy in fact that when Stefania joked that it was like a yearbook signing, I ran with it.




If you bought an advance copy of Sleep is for the Week Saturday night then wondered why the hell I inscribed something about having a blast with you in AP chem, now you know that I wasn’t on crack. Just Chardonnay and copious amounts of joy.

Thank you to you for being the place that my writing leads. Because you were there. Or because you are here.

It’s freaking hot in New York today. I could go for a lime popsicle.

{72 Comments}

72 thoughts on “BlogHer 08: The beginning, middle, but not so much the end.”

  1. omg, lime popsicles are, like, SO DISGUSTING! seriously.and that’s what i got out of your post. did you write other stuff? i forget.i really want a popsicle now…love you, lady! :)

  2. What? Lime popsicles?I kid, I kid.I’m so sad I missed all of this, but so happy ya’ll had such a great time. I guess there’s always next year…

  3. Mmmm, lime popsicles are YUMMY! I’m eating one right now, except it’s like a creamsicle cause it has vanilla ice cream in the middle.Mmmm, creamsicles…You know, it’s not really our fault. You go and throw something up there about food (and Rocco’s nipples), and what did you expect? For us to pay attention? Girl, you know your audience better than THAT lolYeh, I heard about the kerfuffle, even watched a bit of it on video (via either NakedJen’s site or Stephanie’s site, I can’t remember), and all I could think was, eh. No big deal. Personally, I’m amazed that with that many women and the copious amounts of wine, there weren’t some serious bitch-slapdowns. Kinda disappointed, actually, if you must know. I’ll have to attend next year, so I can cause some kind of ruckus worthy of gossiping about. Who’s with me?

  4. I didn’t even know there WAS book signing. I was evidently too busy giving KY jelly to strangers. But it was really nice chatting with you a bit Saturday night!(as I was about to hit publish, I realized I totally did the comment-on-the-end-of-the-post thing, good call)

  5. i love this post. and it’s obviously not for oh so flattering way i’m mentioned.. lol.. cause it’s so you. so appreciative of all the really good things around you. so informative (thank you for the link to all the speakers and what they read- i totally wanted to see that!!!) i took so many pics of you signing those books! have you seen them? i felt like stalkerazzi with all my mom 101 pics. anyway, back to why i love this post- and you. cause you’re heartfelt and kind and honest. you truly reach for the best and want the best for all of us bloggers. you know? i love what you do and how you do it.i hate that i didn’t get more of you this past weekend. it makes me sad.

  6. Akky Sheedy in the Breakfast Club is so the epitome of me during college. I still have the acid-free bound notebook that I wrote in. I sat alone and talked to no one. Sad.At least I wasn’t Ally Sheedy in High Art. That movie tore me up.Your post made me wish I’d been there. Now I want a popsicle, but we only have banana.

  7. Mmm, lime popsicles… And wow, I totally missed drama. Oh, and I wish I had been there for the readings. I would love to hear the voices to go with some of those bloggers I have been reading if I didn’t meet them last year.

  8. Lime Popsicles are the bomb. I’ve always written for others….they just sometimes happen to be the friends in my head. I went looking for my old blog peeps, before I even wrote my first post on my new blog. Because I do write for me, I truly do. But I also write for all of you. That’s why this is so great, because somewhere out there, someone understands us, even in the minute details of our lives. I know that if I write about Chuck E’ Cheese turning my kids into monsters there is someone who understands. And that I love, that’s what made me come back to blogging after a year off. Because I missed that connection.And now the important question, there was a drunk elephant? Is there pictures? I adore Jennster for being so up front always and forever. Even though I wasn’t there.

  9. I haven’t even been able to write about the weekend yet, because there are just far too many highlights.And I was wondering why you wrote something about remembering the band tour. I thought maybe it had something to do with the loverly shuttle ride.

  10. I read you regularly but hardly ever comment but this post really struck a note with me. I have never wanted to attend Blogher until I read this. I have always been intimidated to a certain degree by ALL the other bloggers out there. But you, well you make me want to be a better blogger. You make me want to put my thoughts out there and not hold them inside because I fear ridicule. You make me want to attend an event that I think would make me cry because I desire acceptance so badly and Blogher screams of exclusion. I also want to run to NY and give you a big hug because your words have really touched me and also, I now need a lime popsicle.

  11. Oh thank you Flybunny. So very much. You’ve touched me right back. BlogHer is the most inclusive community I’ve ever known. Almost to a fault. Anyone who can’t find <>her people<> there either has extraordinarily high expectations, or perhaps just isn’t a people person to begin wtih.I’ve said before that you can spend your energy talking about the relationships you made at the conference, or you can spend your energy talking about the relationships you didn’t. You’ll see both kinds of posts in the week to come. It should be a reflection of the blogger more than the event itself. I really look forward to checking out your blog.

  12. Yeah, I don’t even like lime popsicles. Cherry, yes. Lime, no. I am SO BUMMED that I had to leave before the book signing. That is one of the things I was probably looking forward to the most. Any chances someone will have some books signed by everyone for sale or something? Because that would rock. Also: LOVED the community keynote. That was freakin’ INSPIRING. I never felt so proud to be a blogger as I was listening to all you amazing women.

  13. Oh the lime popsicles, I mean… drama. I wondered how long it’d take for it to hit the great vast sea that is our interwebs. Who was I kidding, it was a conference filled with <>bloggers<> I’m surprised it took even this long.

  14. God Liz, I totally love you. Every year, I see you for just a few minutes, and yet it’s like meeting an old friend. And you’re right. The Friday night keynote was certainly one of the best experiences OF MY LIFE. Standing backstage, I told everyone later, was like being in that American Idol contestant group, hugging those who’d read sad posts, high fiving those with funny posts. IT WAS PURE AWESOME. And I’m so glad I got to share that with you. :)

  15. you are absolutely hilarious. I loved reading your recollection of the conference. it was a lot of fun and i am glad to have found so many great new blogs and women to read about.

  16. I used to dip my lime lollipops in milk. Not popsicles, just lollipops.I’m sorry I missed it all. Really, really sorry b/c nothing is more fun to me than hanging out with fun, strong, opinionated (and sometimes drunk) women.

  17. Well woman, as someone who has been reading you since… well officially since the nursing bra post. I’m pretty sure that’s when I fell in love. I have to tell you that it was even more awesome hearing you read your own words. And yes, the community keynote was the highlight and you gave me the courage to consider submitting for consideration next year.And yes, as a professional writer, we all write for an audience. To pretend that blogging should only be for yourself is silly. It’s the most incredible venue for any artist to hone her craft and a huge part of finding your voice is discovering which ears want to hear it. (ooh! That was sage! Must copy and paste into a post of my own.)And yes, Jennster is awesomeness. I’m really glad she’s not a mythical Hobbit.

  18. Again, I wish I’d had more time to chat with you and absorb wee tiny shards of your brilliance. Next year?You’ve made me want a lime popsicle.

  19. First time reader, first time commenter. Probably the only person on the freaking planet that didn’t know about you till BlogHer. BUT, I think I love you.I had to miss the signing to catch a flight back home and am totally bummed. I’m thinking about buying a copy and then mailing it to all ya’ll one at a time. A little overboard you think? I think not!

  20. Ditto all what everyone above me here has said, about how astute, right on, and definitive this post is. Perfect: “part poetry slam, part open mic night, part thousand-person group hug.” Yep. Thank you for putting your finger on it. This blogging thing is definitely good enough.By the way, I refuse to weigh in on the popsicle issue, by the way, but mostly because it’s been chilly in the Bay Area today, and under these conditions a gal’s thoughts tend to turn to hot chocolate.

  21. when we are low on popsicles, only lime & orange are left in the freezer. purple is always the first to go.

  22. I can’t take this entire lovefest any longer. All my favorite bloggers and favorite women in one place together? Next year, I’m going to go as Mrs. Doubtfire.

  23. (META-COMMENTARY ALERT) Exactly, exactly, exactly, and, also, ditto: this weekend was all about validation of bloggers and blogging as the forces of literature, activism, journalism and awesomeness that they are, and will continue to be. Those lime popsicles ain’t made of KoolAid, baby. And even if they are, it’s a better class of KoolAid than one usually swallows. So there.

  24. So that was fun, huh? I’m still waiting for the awkward Wii Fit hula hoop photos to surface.Beautifully put lady, one to be quoted and linked and licked.

  25. DUDE I love lime popsicles!I’m so sad that not only did I miss blogher, but I missed the chance to get you and amalah to autograph a copy of sleep is for the weak! Unfortunately I’m 6 months pregnant, and we’re saving up for stuff like cribs and diapers and other things I’m told we need more than I needed to go and relive high school (aka standing around wishing I were one of the cool girls).

  26. Haha. Lime popsicles, again.I read the whole book…cover to cover…during my four hour layover in Minneapolis. And then I thought of each and every author when an asshat on the airplane gave a young mom a very hard time because her baby was crying. She just smiled and did her best to hush her precious one. Me? I accidentally, on purpose, knocked him in the head with my laptop bag as I passed by him after we landed in Wisconsin. Serves him right.Your righting is always brilliant. I think it’s why I come here. That and lime popsicles!(Hows that for a random mixed up comment?)

  27. My God, I can’t spell. Writing, not righting. I’m embarrassed for not spell checking before posting the above comment.It must be the long weekend and California time that has made me lose all grammar and spelling skills! Ugh.

  28. Great post! I started blogging as a way to journal the year I turned 50. I continue to blog because it connects me (or offers a way to connect me) to others. I blog because, at an age when women tend to become invisible out in the real world, I want to not be invisible. Is there a session at BlogHer for Boomer Bloggers?

  29. tjs YES in fact there was an entire meet-up type session < HREF="http://www.blogher.com/blogher_conference/conf/2/agenda/1#s74" REL="nofollow">here<> that spoke to the “sandwich generation,” and enabled bloggers to connect to the midlifebloggers.com community. This was about the most diverse conference you could imagine. The only thing that was missing was Canadian Wiccans with humps. Although I hear it’s being proposed for ’09.

  30. You kick ass! Loved this post.I agree wholeheartedly about writing for others. Often I think it is just for me, but lately I’ve been thinking – dang my hubby needs to really know how much of a slob I think he is and maybe today I just don’t feel like yelling it. So read my blog dammit! LOLOkay, I sound crazy. Great to match your beautiful face with your equally fantastic writing!2 good +2 be= 4 gottten (how is that for some yearbook writing.)Nice hat.

  31. Did someone say lime popsicle? I actually prefer orange. /distractionI don’t know Alice and Amy. Although I probably would have bought the book anyway, it was all the more special because bloggers I know and love (you, Kristin, Stefania, Jenn, Jenny) were in it. It makes me feel validated too. Because you’re right – what we do does matter. It isn’t less than. And wooooooah, what’s up with the nipple shirt????Dude, I have fantastic pics of you in my Flickr stream.

  32. I had ordered an advanced copy of the book but then saw them all there, shiny and new and I longed to support you all in your wonderful efforts, so I bought another one. I think it was chemistry class in my book though…

  33. i refused to put my book in my purse the whole way home–all the way from san fran, down to LA, and then to michigan. i love it so much, i didn’t want it to get bent or anything, so i just decided to carry it in my hands.i love that it’s full of great writing, written by writers that i love, and i love that i will always be able to remember standing there while you all signed it…it’s just so very special. THANK YOU.

  34. Thanks for a great post about BlogHer. I’ve made it a goal too get there next year…it’s so great to know that it’ll be a good time!

  35. I’m sorry. I lost all memory retention when you said Rocco DiSpirito and nipple shirt.Sorry I missed BlogHer 08. It sounds truly wonderful.

  36. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have no idea who Rocco DiSpirito is but every time I read a post where his nipple shirt is mentioned, I’m taken back to 7th grade history class. We had a teacher who was overly fond of the overly tight shirt but we called them his titty shirts. It still makes me giggle. I would love to hear you at the keynote if I can locate the correct video. You were one of the handful of people I was so looking forward to seeing this year. There’s just never enough time to really sit and have a good old fashioned conversation but I keep hoping :)

  37. I really enjoyed the community keynote. I only welled up three or four times. I agree we all write for an audience. I don’t think I am totally reconciled to how much I care about the audience.

  38. Who did you have for tenth grade English that you hated? I had Duke Schirmer, the t-shirt-wearing, outside-class-squatting, smoking-in-class-while-teaching most awesome guy in the world. Or was that 11th grade? I did smoke an awful lot of pot back then.I’m glad that you had such a great time. Fuck that teacher, whoever she was.

  39. I’m a little late to comment here. I too just got back from a long ass family vaca – on the heels of BlogHer. (More sleep, need more sleep.) I just had to say, safely tucked home here behind my computer, that I was so incredibly moved and amazed by you and the other women who spoke. For real. Blown away. Stick a fork in me. Downright amazed. And I also feel like a shmuck for not introducing myself and saying so face to face. So I’m saying it now, safely home, tucked behind my computer. LAME. So so soooo LAME. Just didn’t want to be one more person hasseling you. Anyhoo. Go Mom-101. You all were inspiration and – like lightening in a bottle (or maybe on a stage) – you all summed up the reason we women keep on blogging. Hope you get the rest you needed back from your vaca.

  40. Oh, to have been there instead of allowing my underage daughter to drink Indonesian beer while riding elephants in that utter, utter paradise known as Bali.Just trying to flaunt because I’m jealous about the BlogHer experience that I’ve missed for the second time in a row.The real reason why I wished I was there? So I can re-introduce myself to you then watch you get all flustered and confused – “But, I’VE ALREADY MET YOU!” – then I get all menopausally spaced out and insist that – “No, PUNK, this is the first time.” – then I turn to CityMama Stefania and kiss her square on her hot Korean lips and you’d say – “We have met! You did that the last time I saw you!” And so on.Love to you from The Menopausal Hutxoxo

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