Well. Where do I start?
I'm a bit of a donut when it comes to socialising.
My mind goes blank when I meet strangers and more often than not my brain is shouting, "say something interesting you moron" whilst what actually comes out of my mouth is, "BLAAAH. (silence). BLEUUGH. DOOR KNOBS. (silence). OOH ISN'T IT COLD?".
So the idea of chucking myself into a conference room filled with some 200-odd people. And not just any old bunch of peeps but BLOGGERS - that thing I'm trying to do well, to champion and which so so many of them do amazingly - wasn't top of my wishlist.
Blogtacular had been looming for a couple of months and as it got nearer and the weekly Twitter chat furore built, I genuinely began to feel excited about it. And I'm not one of those people. I'm a pessamistic, think-the-worst kind of girl.
Yesterday was Blogtacular D Day and wow, seriously - WOW - I hand-on-heart had a real ball. Not for one moment did I start concocting my swift exit strategy or call my husband from the loo's whinging of my disappointment. It was an epic 12 hours.
The Photowalk began at 7am at the London Eye and I'll be honest, it was fun but after an hour or so of my useless phone-photo skills and cursing myself for turning up in an outfit more fit for a seaside outing in Spain than a chilly British London morn, I was losing the will a tad. The ladies were lovely but we were all pretty engrossed in photo antics rather than chinwagging and like most things I'm no good at, my attention drifted (to cooked breakfasts and my duvet). I kidnapped the most lovely Beth Benton, who I befriended whilst queuing for a hot cuppa pick-me-up and we exitted straight to Blogtacular.
Grace Bonney of Design* Sponge opened the conference and I really, really liked her. She spoke from the heart and I loved hearing her journey from her first ever blog back in 2002-odd, which, didn't look, you know, amazing and all that she's learnt along the way. She was thought-provoking and energising - a fabulous introduction to the day ahead.
I ummed and erred down to the very last minute with the others speaker topics but plumped for Marte Marie Forsberg's 'Creativity & Inspiration, 'Grow Your Audience' panel discussion, Urban Jungle Blog's 'Creating Community' and Betty Magazine's Styling Workshop.
Anthony Peters of Imeus Design closed the day - another clever choice from the two Kats. He was witty, insightful and being married to a graphic designer I recognised some of the people he's worked with on his film, Made You Look. I could be found (rudely) texting the hub throughout saying "Do you know this dude? See, I DO listen when you bore me with design chat" - I surprised myself there to be honest.
So....what did I take away with me from this immense day of creative inspiration and energy?...
- Grace told us to write down three fears and to try and embrace at least one, in whatever way possible. My fears?..Lack of control, flying and public speaking. The public speaking one bugs me. I was too weedy to even face asking a question because it meant holding a microphone and everyone turning to look at me. Losing ability to speak then bolting in front of strangers isn't ideal. I adored drama at school so maybe I should look at it like acting? I need to embrace this one way or another and am wondering if there's a baby-steps way of me facing up to it?..
- Sam Baker on the audience panel said something that really made my ears prick up. The Pool doesn't have a comments option on its blog. Why? Because "if people who love your blog are commenting on your blog about how much they love it, that means they're not doing it anywhere else, so what's the point?". Ooh food for thought that one. I get very few comments as it is but it got me thinking what would happen if I bit the bullet and urged people to comment out in the world of social media instead...
- Marie talked about the five steps when you first start out and oh how they ring true:
- I'm awesome
- Ok this is tricky
- This is shit
- This is really shit
- It's awsome!.
How many of us get to number 3 and just give up, throw in the towel?.. Keep going she says, get past that point. I need to get this tattoed somewhere.
- Collaboration - a theme throughout and something I'm muchly interested in. I love the idea of joining forces and combining skills with clever creative folk, working with people who see things in a different light. Igor and Judith from Urban Jungle Bloggers are prime examples and chatted how one is the wordy expert, the other the design guru. I'm up for this..anyone else keen to give it a go? Please do let me know if so....
- Meeting some truly gorgeous people. There's always that slightly weird moment at the beginning where you introduce yourself to someone you're sure you've had social interaction with, meet a blank expression, then tell them your blog name and AHAA, we recognise each other. Phew. Plus let's be fair, everyone's profile pictures are 2mm wide so it's kinda hard to make the pairing in real life. But I managed to meet not only my lovely London luncheon pals, Jen of Inky Creative, Natalie of Berrylliant Knits, Katie of BeNourished and finally Nat of Block Print Social - but also have some lovely chinwags with these gorgeous ladies - Hannah of Han_House (good luck with the flat love!), Sue of Old Fashioned Susie, Anna of Sew Bea Happy, Eleanor of ELM_rocks and Abi of These 4 Walls. There was SUCH a lovely upbeat air about the day - you could see everyone bouncing thoughts off each other and exchanging tips from talks. I didn't go to uni but I imagine it to be something like this, except this was better.
- And lastly some very wise words from Grace. She's clever she is.
"There is room for ALL OF US".
See you in 2016 Blogtacular.