Monday, October 27, 2014

Soylent Blissdom: It's People! Peeeeeople!

Yes, it's been a couple of weeks since Blissdom. Yes, I've taken my sweet time assembling this post. Yes, I'm a little conflicted about what to write.

I love the enthusiastic, fired-wired-inspired posts from people who have discovered their Inner Writer, or Inner Entrepreneur, or Inner Brand Spokesperson. I love hearing about people who had their creative potential unlocked by a panel or a microsession. I love Lesley, who is now practically the Blissdom Poster Child, or should be, and I love seeing what Blissdom started for her.

Lesley, rocking the Jack Skellington look

But I'm not young, or fired-up, or especially unlocked. I've looked into my Neighbourhood of Inners, and let me tell you, it's full of assholes. And I'd like to say that Blissdom stuffed a gag in the gob of my Inner Name-Caller, or obliterated my Inner Confidence-Sucker, or shouted down my Inner You-Can't-Do-Anything Reaffirmer. But I'd be lying.

I still haven't figured out how to move my blog to Wordpress. I still haven't found a way to make money writing that doesn't make me feel like I'm losing or corrupting or selling out my voice - the voice I finally felt like I'd found with blogging. I've seen other people do it, and I'm happy for them, but I'm not there yet; I might not ever be there.

And that's okay. Blissdom is a sprawling, wide-ranging animal, and not everyone will get the same thing from it.

What I get from Blissdom, is free, unfettered, week-end-long access to some wholly kick-ass people.

Like Nicole, who texts me telling me I'm wonderful and sends me chocolate-covered fruit when I'm sad and introduced me to Erica Ehm as if I was the famous person. She is the most delightful combination of sweet and salty (rarely has an unkind word for everyone, worked tirelessly for the Yummy Mummy Club and still had time for me and Hannah, and every once in a while comes out with a well-timed "Tell him to eat your dick!" just to keep things interesting) and I love her. 

And Hannah, who has the same stupid no-one-is-going-to-be-happy-to-see-me anxiety I do and is smart and witty and funny and lovely and pretends it's not weird that I can't let people eat on my bed and when she got there we were so excited that she screamed and I think I hit her in the face with my phone trying to hug her and when they played My Humps at the P.J. Party she yelled"Oh, fuck off - if I don't wear a two hundred and fifty dollar bra, my humps are ON THE FLOOR!" And I love her. 

If there had been nothing good about Blissdom except Hannah and Nicole, it still would have been well worth the trip and the admission price. But I also got to see Courtney, a fellow book-blogger I met at Blissdom last year and became blog friends with - she ran a microsession on blogging for mobile technology. She also wore a poodle skirt to the Throwback Thursday party, which, hello, insanely cool.

She was afraid no one would show up for her session, so Hannah and I said "We will! We will show up! Even if we are slightly hung over from a fabulously strange lentil carnival." Okay, we didn't really say that, but we were, and we did, and the session was was full of stuff that I didn't know and really should know, and Courtney is a great teacher, and we had fun.

And Schmutzie. Schmutzie is wise and kind and a national treasure and I love to read her writing but it's nice to hear her voice now and then, and plead for my yearly pity hug, which she claims is not a pity hug, so I should probably stop calling them pity hugs, because honesty is kind of Schmutzie's thing. 

Then there was my extra-special sparkly prize at the bottom of the Blissdom box this year.....

Kate! My Kate! She's a well-established blogger and Ambassador of Chill and she spoke at the Power Hour, so she's kind of a big deal, but I still persist in thinking of her as My Kate, and she's generally pretty gracious about it. . She came up to me and Alex and Jolene when we were having dinner (after I had already crashed Alex and Jolene's dinner) and said mind if I join you, and who could mind being joined by the quintessence of grace and charm with an effervescent sprinkling of goofiness? 

This was Kate's first Blissdom, so she didn't know about the dance-til-you-sweat-your-ass-off part of the Pajama Party. "I thought we'd be laying around on pillows" she said plaintively. It's okay, My Kate. Lots of people wear flannel their first year.

I spend so much time in the world feeling like a round peg in a square hole. There's something magical about walking around in a crowd of people who get that a computer screen can actually be a portal to a deep, wide, comforting and supportive and uplifting community (I just made the blogosphere sound like a really expensive bra, and I'm okay with that - presumably Hannah is too). 

So no, I probably won't turn up next year all fired up about SEO optimization (I like to stick quirky, cryptic titles on my blog post and rely on fate to lead people to them), or pitching brands for sponsored posts, or if I'll start writing in shorter paragraphs with the important information near the beginning. Some people would say I'm doing it all wrong. And maybe I am, but at least I'm doing it. Before I started blogging, I was hardly writing at all. I couldn't find a voice, I couldn't see a path. In a million years I wouldn't have shown up at a conference for people who write and called myself one of those people. 

Do I call myself one of those people now?

You bet your ass I do. (Yes, I wish this was my ass. It's Nicole's. It's kind of a tradition for Nicole's fabulous ass to show up in my Blissdom post). 

After the pajama party on the last night, when Hannah and Nicole had gone to bed, Courtney knocked on my hotel room door and invited me down the hall to hang out with some friends. I wandered in and, within a few minutes, realized I was in a room with two people I knew and four I didn't, and that I had gotten ready for bed before leaving my room, so instead of party pajamas I was now wearing non-party pajamas, and a smear of zit cream on my chin, and no underwear. 

Yeah, I might have been a little TOO comfortable at that point. I will endeavour to restore some standards for next year. 

Thank-you, Blissdom people. If I never make a cent from blogging, I feel like meeting all of you is an embarrassment of riches. 


Lesley Donaldson said...

You are fabulous and you make an impact upon others. When you approached me at the Carnival party about "Line of Sacrifice" it made me feel like a million bucks!

Blissdom Canada 2013 pushed me through a door, yes. But my blog didn't change much over this last year. I'm only now monetizing (barely!), and considering SEO. I find myself saying, "damn I need a social media manager and someone to fix my blog" hoping if I rub a bottle, some genie will pop out and do these things for me for free.

Blogging is what you make of it. For me, since 2007, it was putting myself out there - typing, sharing photos, crying and cheering. But I didn't publicize myself. It took me time to evolve to where I am now (and I have so far to go). So will you, no matter how you choose to change your blogging.

That's the problem with a fantastic event like Blissdom - you can't leave it the same person as you were going into the event. The little voice of "yes I can!" head will nag you too much. I look forward to your changes because I know they'll be an evolution of you!

Let's get together over a bevvie sometime and chat! xoxoxo

Steph Lovelady said...

I love your blog, Allison, SEO be damned. It makes me wish we lived closer so we could go out for coffee, like all the time.

So meeting blog-friends sounds like it's definitively worth the price of admission.

I have been having that I-can't-do-anything feeling lately. Yesterday I ran into my dissertation director, who I may not have seen in 15 years, even though we live in the same smallish town and our brief, awkward conversation left me awash in feelings of shame and failure about my shipwrecked academic career. (I took some vindictive pleasure in noting she has really aged, however.)

Nicole said...

xoxoxo I love you so much!!!! You are just so smart and witty and fun and beautiful and I am so lucky to know you. So lucky. <3 3<

Amy said...

Courtney found freaking saddle shoes online. I mean, really.

Courtney said...

I have the best online friends! Love you so much!

And thank you so much for coming to my microsession - it certainly helped me with my anxiety to have two awesome women that I adore and consider good friends to be in my first one. :)

Julie L said...

I'm glad you come home from Blissdom every year charged up. Not to write more, or try and brand or sell. You come home charged up because you are surrounded by people who love you and understand you and get you. And that does wonders for you. Totally worth the price of admission. And then you introduce your hometown buds to these people, like the lovely Nicole. And now I have a few more blogs to add to my list. I'm glad you go and get so much out of it.

Dimitra Melehes said...

I agree with Nicole, you are so smart, witty, fun and beautiful! I love the way you write and I love reading your blogs. It usually takes me a moment to process conversations (ok, more than a moment, sometimes days..) but by reading your blogs it allows me to appreciate all that you have to offer even more! You are one of a kind Allison and I'm so happy you have found your niche and a special group of people who "get" you! You Rock! xoxo

Lynn said...

What Julie said - so glad you had a wonderful time and do know that your blog is a gorgeous gem of the internet (and you are too!).

I really should go next year, if only to see Nicole do that in real life. I see the photographic evidence, but yet it still seems not humanly possible. :)

Alexandria said...

You know, that dinner with you with a real highlight of Blissdom for me.

So, I know how to move a blog to Wordpress, and I can help you with that. I also know a tiny bit about making (tiny bits of) money from a blog and can help you with that, too.

So. There's that.