That was the view outside my hotel window in San Diego. To say the city is stunning is an understatement. One of my few regrets about this trip is that I didn't have that much time to explore.
When I applied to volunteer at Blogher in the Spring, I have to say I didn't really expect to get accepted. It was a huge surprise that I did and of course I worried about what I was getting myself into. In past years I haven't gone to the conference because when I wasn't working, I couldn't justify spending the money, and when I was working, I couldn't justify spending the vacation time.
This year, thanks to careful rationing and the ability to rollover vacation time from last year, I was able to go. Of course the flight and hotel weren't cheap and, I found myself a week or so before I was due to leave - questioning whether I deserved this trip.
But that's me, and the baggage I carry (no pun intended). Writing has always been a wish - but something clearly only the most talented were ever going to be allowed to do professionally. My writing never seemed to qualify as anything more than just a hobby and something I had to justify spending time on - spending money on it? Unthinkable.
Now before anyone jumps in and pats me on the back and tells me how great my writing is - thanks, but I'm really not fishing for compliments. I know my writing is pretty damn good, no matter how much my internal dialogue (and mother voice) tries to tell me otherwise. Would I ever be able to make the sacrifices necessary for it to become more than just a hobby? Well, Piper gave me the simplest of answers: "People spend money on their hobbies."
And while I was stressing over leaving and spending all this money, he asked me what I hoped to get out of it.
I'm not an A-list blogger and I would never expect to make any kind of lasting connection with the people I have read for years - because they have their circles. That's not said out of resentment, it's just what is, and who I am. That said, there were 3500 people attending this conference, I was bound to find someone to talk to. So, given that, and the fact that I was there as a volunteer, I set the following goals.
I wanted to attend the Special Needs Mini-Conference. I can't say that I strongly identified as a "Special Needs Parent," but I've definitely experienced a strange gravitational pull in the company of other parents who've been there. I really wanted to hear what these women would talk about.
I wanted to touch base with some of the political bloggers. As my kids get older and their stories become more their own, I will be writing more and more about politics. I have seen many bloggers do amazing things with media consulting, graphic and site design, memoir writing, and so on, but the stuff I know best will always be politics and education. Plus, maybe you've heard, there's an election coming. If I get a chance to expand beyond my own site, I'd love to do that.
And that's it. Those were my only real goals. Whatever else happened could only be a bonus.
Well, most of it was. I'm not a reviewer at all so I found the brands and the exhibits to be interesting and at times overwhelming. Some of it was fun and a little bit hokey - like getting my picture taken with a California Raisin or the Statue of Liberty made from Twizzlers. Because I'm not a reviewer I wasn't stressing over the private parties I didn't get invited to. I recognize that all that product placement serves a purpose, though. Whether we are talking about websites or magazines, a lot of writers get published because sponsors (ad buyers) pay for the space. The same holds true for BlogHer. The presence of a lot of the sponsors made it possible for BlogHer to be as big as it was this year (more than twice the size of last year). And there were plenty of public parties to visit.
Sadly, between the timezone, the head cold I was fighting, and the stress of having my wallet stolen, I slept through Sparklecorn. I did make it to Aiming Low's party, and to CheeseburgHer which was a riot. I found people to talk to.
I accomplished my two goals. The Special Needs Mini-Conference is a post all its own. I had the real pleasure of meeting both PunditMom and Kyran Pittman and got them both to sign books for me. I got to meet Goon Squad Sarah whose attitude I just love. I also got to meet several of the Momocrats - women I have been admiring for years. Glennia was kind enough to invite me to lunch.
It feels a bit like name dropping, but that's not the intention. Really, I interacted with these people at the desk for all of 2 minutes. However, anyone who has been to one of these things knows that it a unique thing to meet someone you have been reading for some time. It's like a 2D world suddenly becoming 3D.
In many ways, this was a trial run for me. I've been pulled in so many directions lately, that even when there is time for blogging, my brain has been sucked dry of anything worth the effort to write about. I felt like I had to go to see if I could find my place in the writing universe again. That place is still taking shape, but I can say definitively, that yes, this is still something I want to do. I still have a voice and knowledge that I want to share, and I hope to participate in the blogging community in an even bigger way, next year.
I have already bought my ticket.