For a long time now I have been uncomfortable about where my blog has started to take me – or should that be where I am starting to take my blog?! I think the two things go hand in hand really.
I never started my blog to get ‘stuff’, I never knew that things like sponsored posts existed and I didn’t realise that you could experience opportunities and review things as a result of having a platform where you wrote. But what seems to have happened is that I have become a little commercial enterprise. I didn’t set out for that to happen – and I seem to have become a bit clouded by it all and lost my way. I am certainly not saying that I am ungrateful for the experiences and items that my family have had. But it does mean that it has taken away so much from what I originally set out to do.
As Tim from Slouching Towards Thatcham quite correctly observes in his follow-up post, Blogfest focuses more on the craft of writing. And that is what I really needed this weekend. To affirm a number of my plans. I want this blog to get back to the creative outlet that I had originally planned for it – and speaking to so many of my other fellow bloggers about this, they were extremely supportive.
I would like to share with you 5 lessons that I have learned from this weekend. Mainly from the sessions that I attended and also from just generally chatting to people.
The first session of the day was ‘A Room of One’s Own’: Motherhood and creativity. To me, this doesn’t just boil down to motherhood and whilst I believe in gender equality, I am not a staunch feminist. I think I sit somewhere in the middle. I found Bridget Christie extremely funny and very engaging and she said something that resonated with me. She said that she wrote from 12am until 4am – and then carried on being a mum the next day. I realised that not only had I been suppressing my own creativity – and not writing when I felt like it – I had been doing the same to Ross. I had been quite particular about us both going to bed at a certain time so we could get enough sleep. He likes to write at night and I had been stopping him.
Lesson learned #1: No more suppressing the need to be creative.
The second session that I attended was 25 ways to get published. This was the one I found most informative. I have not written about my latest idea for my poetry so I guess I need to tell you now. I am going to be putting together a book of wedding readings following the success of the one Ross and I wrote for our friends wedding back in October. I was keen to attend this session not only for me, but for Ross too as he is putting the finishing touches on 3 training books and is looking to get them published. I was also looking forward to hearing Rachael Lucas speak. Having spent time with her on a Mark Warner break last year, I am full of admiration for how well Rachael has done. She answered my questions in full and we had a lovely chat later at the drinks reception. I wanted to know the difference between getting a publisher and self-publishing and I also wanted to find out if genre affected this. I have to say that I found Will Francis very dismissive when I explained I wrote poetry and didn’t actually listen to my idea. I was told as much by a lady who felt the same way as I did when she approached me afterwards. She works in the wedding business designing dresses and she definitely wanted to know more.
Lesson learned #2: The main difference between getting a publisher and self-publishing is that the former opens more doors whilst the latter is more lucrative.
Lesson learned #3: It is worth telling a room full of people your ideas because even if the panellists aren’t interested, someone else might be!
I think my most enjoyable session had to be the Think Bombs with Sandi Toksvig, David Baddiel and Val McDermid. They were quick-witted, snappy and engaging and all of them had a part to play in what they said. Val McDermid used my favourite phrase of the day – ‘Creativity is the way to fight back against those who repress us’. I have taken this away with me and will never forget it. David Baddiel was hilarious! I thought his engagement on Twitter was very witty and extremely clever.
Lesson learned #4: You can be rude on Twitter – but you will more likely get away with it if you are a celebrity!
Lesson learned #5: Creativity is probably the most exciting way to express yourself.
I decided not to attend any further sessions after this one as otherwise I would have been suffering from information overload so I used the opportunity to visit a few of the sponsor’s stands and catch up with some of the bloggers who had decided to do the same thing.
The final session was good but I think by that point I had taken in everything that I had wanted to that day.
Attending the drinks reception was a great chance to stand and chat to so many different people. As always, whenever I come away from an event like this, I wish I had had more time to speak to everyone!
I think I needed to know that the changes I have wanted to make are the right ones. This conference helped me to see that as long as you are happy with what you are doing and how you are writing, then nothing else really actually matters. I’ve finally realised that I haven’t been happy with what I have been doing for a little while now and so, expect to see lots of changes come the New Year.
Thank you so much to Mumsnet and all their organisers who did such a wonderful job and brought in some very high profile speakers for #Blogfest15.