Thursday, August 09, 2012

Making the Most of BlogHer

It may sound cliché, but BlogHer manages to top itself every year by making that year's conference the "best one yet." How do Lisa, Elisa, and Jory do it? Oh, with the little things... like booking President Obama, Katie Couric and Martha Stewart. But also with their uncanny ability to remain accessible, friendly and as real as you or I, all while delivering an event that runs as smoothly as any vehicle carrying over attendees is capable of. Their ever-expanding team of talented and smart women (I'm talking to YOU Diane (MomoFali), Stacy (BklynStacy), and Shannon (Mr. Lady), just to name a very small few...) work really hard to make the event come off this well and I'd just like to say THANK YOU.


My roommate Ann, a fellow Madison (where I USED to live) blogger I am lucky enough to call my Blog-BFF and have roomed with for the past four consecutive BlogHer conferences, said, as we discussed the brilliance of some session or interview we had just participated in/seen, and I have to paraphrase here because I can't remember exactly how she said it, "Amy, can you believe the opportunities that we've been given and the things we've gotten to do since we started our blogs?" And I could honestly answer, "No." I really can't believe it. Starting my blog four years ago has led to some of the closest friendships I've made since college, countless opportunities to meet kindred souls and share what I love doing with them, and probably at least ten really amazing opportunities that I completely squandered because I didn't see them for what they were... or didn't think that I was good enough to fulfill them... or wasn't professional enough to follow through on.

What?! I just threw a little curveball in there, didn't I? You see, this year BlogHer has made me reflective about my blogging career rather than my usual post-BlogHer reveling in the afterglow of so much love and camaraderie...


Which brings me back to BlogHer and how during those four days that I attended the conference, I felt like I could do anything I set my mind to—that the career I want to have was literally just there for me to grab, if I would/could just sit down and write every day. I know I have a book (or three) of stories in me and all I need do is write them down—if I could just do that then putting together the proposals and getting the right meetings will all just fall into place....

And then I returned home to my boys, my husband, my house, my life... There is laundry stacked in at least four rooms, there's a line of ants going from the door to the cat dish, the front room looks like the entirety of the mown lawn's clippings have been deposited on the floor, the stairs have kitty litter dribbled down them, and don't even get me started on the dead cockroach that is on the white tile RIGHT BESIDE THE BATHROOM DOOR.

I ended up being a huge grump with my husband when he got home from work the next day. Partially because after I had shared something I hoped to do in the next few months with him his first comment was that I was "reaching." In a bad way, like my story isn't nearly as special as I think it is. He perhaps meant it merely as a reach for the political implications I projected onto the idea, but my feelings were hurt nonetheless. But mostly I was in a terrible mood because it is such a huge letdown to come back home where the seemingly endless responsibilities, the dirt, the kids, the work of a marriage all converge and overwhelm me—and dash my hopes that I will be able to get more organized and "just get the writing done" like I imagined while gone.

After four days of endless parties, taking meetings, doing dinners, talking with the blogging world's movers and shakers, and generally being treated just short of a rock star at BlogHer—coming home feels like the worst coke hangover of all time.

(Not that I would know, but it looks pretty awful in Less Than Zero.)

So now what? Well, I'm going to make my twice yearly attempt to truly organize my days and will set aside 1 hour for facebook and twitter in the morning, followed by two hours of writing, followed by working out, followed by doing all the myriad other things that need my attention for the rest of the time before the kids get home from school. My kids have entered an entirely new stratosphere of homework requirements, so I am writing off having any free time at night until well after bedtime. If I am truly motivated, I will cut my TV schedule down to just the basics, too (but, God, I hope it doesn't come to that—I need my shows!).

I will also be thinking long and hard about a great conversation that I had with Erica Diamond, the founder of Women on the Fence, at the conference. She has dedicated her life to helping other women find balance in their lives and careers and she really helped me work through some of these emotions, assuring me that I could move forward with my dreams, but that it's okay to wait, too, secure with the knowledge that I will still be able to make it happen when I am ready to "get off the fence" and move forward with my career.

Thanks for inspiring me for another year, BlogHer!!! I'm going to work my ass off to try and make the most of everything I took away from this year's conference, so I can help make 2013's BlogHer the best ever, too. 

****CORRECTION / EXPLANATION****
Due to some of the comments made regarding my husband, I'd like to clarify that while I was annoyed with him because he hurt my feelings—I also don't expect him to understand a good portion of my on-line life. What we do in Blogland is kind of bizarre (admit it, it's true!) and though I might want him to understand all the nuances, I know that it is unfair to get mad when he "doesn't get it." He tries to get it, though, and respects that I care deeply about it—which is all I feel comfortable asking him to do. 

I am fully aware that I would not be in a position to while away the hours writing and honing my social media expertise if I wasn't being financially supported through his efforts and paycheck. Someday I hope that I can turn that around and support him with my career, but for right now we are as happy as any couple in the weeds of parenthood can be. :) 

30 comments:

  1. yeah, I came back inspired, too. it lasted about 2 hours. i'm sure you'll do better!

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  2. That's funny, because I came home thinking I should quit.

    Wonderful to see you!

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  3. Yes, exactly! It's hard to sustain that conference high once you get home and the toilets need to be cleaned.

    Then there's that let-down when I think "Pioneer Woman never had to put up with this." Even though she probably did.

    Joining you in a commitment to a schedule. We'll see how long that lasts for me.

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  4. Great seeing you there. And coke hangover is the perfect term for reality re-entry. Perfect.

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  5. DO IT!
    Write. Something.
    Can't wait to see what you come up with.

    Partly because I'm now stuck.
    Grin.

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  6. My hangover is SO bad this year. Ouch. Love you, and this honest and very insightful analysis. xoxo

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  7. I feel much the same this year. We should have some sort of support/kick your ass group.

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  8. Arrgh! Understood. I sometimes go through this after I return home from my weekly writing group. It's my escape and then I get to... "what's for dinner?" But, alas, I later make it back to my little desk to finish cranking out my book.

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  9. Loved this post. Hangovers end, then you settle in and get writing again. A reach? Go for it!

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  10. I'll leave the same comment here I left on the Empresses blog. "When people ask me why I don't want to get married I'll show them this post."

    Being in the arts is being married, but to yourself. The amount of commitment required to move an artistic career forward is huge and I've had trouble in 2 different relationships with men (and I use that term loosely)who just couldn't handle my success. They only criticized and always wanted my life to be all about them.

    To make you feel better about the nasty comment your husband made about "it being a reach" I give you the man who told me to quit standup because no one had called me for a gig in a year and a half. Then when I got a big TV show, he wasn't even happy for me.

    The down side of all this is because you choose to be alone, the discipline is all yours. You have no excuses, like kids, cleaning, cooking etc. So if you don't get it done? It's all on you.

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  11. I'm so so happy to finally be able to spend some time with you, albeit not enough. I can tell you're my kinda girl. I love this post. I also get the whole thing about husbands not always quite understanding what we're doing or why we keep doing it or why we keep adding to our plate. Mine is so supportive of what I do -- truly -- but also wonders aloud when I'm going to quit and get a job. So ...

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  12. It was great seeing you again! :)

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  13. I came back inspired, too. I just need school to start again (not until after Labor day up here).

    It was so great to see (and sing with) you!

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  14. I'm so happy to read this. I didn't attend BlogHer but I did go to Blissdom and felt super energized afterwards. But as you said it only lasted so long. And lately I've been working on scheduling myself - between a full-time job, a part-time freelancing job, a blog and everything that entails, working on a book and trying to, you know, eat and live and whatnot...it's overwhelming. Something's always falling by the wayside. But I believe that you and I can both get it done, get off the fence and make it happen!

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  15. Came here via Ann's tweet and I am so glad I did. I feel exactly the way you do--on the precipice of a writing career but never quite on the other side. I have four kids and we're at a variety of ages--homework like you mentioned and right down to a baby. We're all over the map. Still, I manage to make ALL kinds of time for the blog, FB, and Twitter. Clearly I've let those take over. But I enjoy them SO much more than the fiction.

    Anyway, sorry to make this so much about me. It was long way of saying that I 100% relate.

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  16. I totally get ya, and I wasnt at BlogHer (boo). The worst is when I'm brimming with ideas and then something inevitably crops up - the dishwasher breaks, someone gets injured, whatever.

    And in the end, I feel like I haven't written enough AND my house is dirty and laundry is piling up, and my husband looks at me like "what the hell have you DONE all day?"

    I really need to figure out a schedule that I can stick to that doesnt' have me writing at 11pm and still lets me get in my dog walk/jog/twitter/cleaning/cooking and still wrap it all up by 3:15 so I have time for the kids. I get SO frustrated.

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  17. Funny enough, I read this and completely related ... despite NOT being at BlogHer this year. And I said as such on Kate's blog too!

    I've been a bit more entrenched in the Foreign Service blogging community as of late. And after I attend events or get really involved in something, it's almost like I have this post-orgasmic moment. A few minutes or hours of joy and then it's back to the reality ... of nobody giving a hoot about it, but me.

    I look forward to making it out to Chicago next year. Hubby will be back from Afghanistan. We'll know where our next move may be (shhhhh). And the excitement of being in the room with so many cool people. Just wow ...

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  18. It's always the husband's comments that cut the deepest. This is a good summary, as Kate said, and I'm also trying to figure out how to do better - how to get organized. Even as I'm writing this my kids are literally bouncing off the walls to kid's pop music.

    Heeeeelp.

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  19. Loved sharing breakfast with you. I mean we had just met and then boom - splitting a meal. That is the beauty of this space. Cannot wait to see you at BlogHer13. xoxo

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  20. This was such an amazing Post! I felt like you were speaking for me. I can sooo relate to everything you said!! Thank you for summing up the BlogHer experience so perfectly!! I will share this Post with my husband for sure. Best Wishes! -Annie

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  21. Well obviously I loved this...

    And I loved seeing you in NYC! Though I'm only just starting to recover from my hangover...

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  22. The laundry, she is merciless. My partner, she is less merciless but I still rely on my online people to keep hope alive. Squeeze that book out! Hope it's crowning by 2013!!

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  23. "But mostly I was in a terrible mood because it is such a huge letdown to come back home where the seemingly endless responsibilities, the dirt, the kids, the work of a marriage all converge and overwhelm me—and dash my hopes that I will be able to get more organized and "just get the writing done" like I imagined while gone."

    I struggle with this too. I have people tell me that "if you really wanted to write, you'd write." I have a job, a family and a son with a physical disability that requires more than his share of medical appointments. It ain't that easy. My most productive writing time is while I'm work (I write professionally), so they get the best and I get the rest. What I need is a sugar daddy.

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  24. If only school would START! I bet we could each write a dozen books by Halloween--if the kids were out the house, as we say Down South.

    +1 for using "myriad" correctly, BTW. That and "its" vs. "it's" is how I separate wheat from chaff. You made the cut. Your club membership welcome kit should be in the mail any day now.

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  25. I really need to attend a BlogHer one of these days. All these recaps intrigue me.

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  26. this is such a great post! i have been a squanderer of opportunities many times, mostly out of fear (of failure or of success?)

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  27. This. Exactly, fucking this.
    I came home to stacks of laundry, a teething baby, a dirty preschooler, and a dining room table broken in half. My hopes of the two books I've got in my brain, starting a whole new website, and taking my YouTube channel to new heights was quickly set aside in the hopes of getting a shower and perhaps one short blog post.
    That's why i don't do coke.

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  28. Hopefully, you can understand why I'm just now getting around to reading blogs (and commenting on none), but I couldn't leave without saying thank you for the thank you. So, thank you.

    I'm so glad to hear you reflecting on your blogging career. I love that the conference made you think. Of course, hugs and dancing aren't so bad either. ;)

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  29. Coming home was hard for me, too, but then I realized how much more I need to do in this space. After my vacation, I need to get to work and also be grateful for where all this has brought me.

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  30. Amy, my dear friend I did not get to see AT ALL at BlogHer, BOOOO!! So first, I'm here to say thanks for the name-check. Means a lot, actually! Second, I'm here with some magaziney advice, but advice I think is good for your post and those who feel as you do: Choose to break your routine and set aside something you do every day just to prove to yourself that it is possible RIGHT NOW to live this dream. Stop working out three days a week and write instead and see how that brings you alive in a different way! Get out of bed 90 minutes earlier when the house is yours alone (and then sacrifice that last one hour of TV the night before) and write like the wind. Or stare at your computer like the wind. Whatever the muse offers up. But make a small sacrifice of something you do every day, just to show yourself you can. Once you've started the energy flowing in that direction, it will pull you forward, and the laundry will wait just one more hour, I promise! Much love to you, so looking forward to seeing you SOMEDAY JUST TO HANG OUT MORE!!

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Thoughts appreciated. Advice welcome. Douche-baggery scoffed at then deleted.