BlogHer ’13: But Maud, how did you FEEL about it all?

Chicago view
View from my room on the 21st floor

Can I squeeze one more post out of the BlogHer experience before you’re all sick to death of the subject? It’s just that I have more things to say about it. I’m still processing the whole weekend, but I also want to write it all down before I forget.

When people in Chicago heard it was my first BlogHer conference, they would say, sympathetically, “It’s all a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?” But honestly, I didn’t feel overwhelmed. It was exhausting, but I didn’t realise that till I came home. I did burn out a bit on sessions, but I could cope with that by simply not attending the last one I’d tentatively put on my schedule for the day.

When I went to University College Dublin (17,000 students) from my high school of 300 (which is a normal/medium size in Ireland but tiny by American standards) the same thing should have happened: I should have been intimidated and overwhelmed by the size of the place and all those people. But I wasn’t. I found my place and I slotted in, and it felt right straight away.

Maybe it’s because I like big cities or maybe it’s because I’m halfway between intro- and extravert, or maybe it’s because as an only child you’re often plonked into situations among many adults you don’t know and expected to just entertain yourself quietly until everyone’s ready to go… or maybe it’s just me. I’m generally content to quietly put myself somewhere and watch what’s going on, even if what’s going on is positively enormous.

Maud in a bathroom
Day one: Not overwhelmed

And BlogHer is pretty enormous. There were about six thousand attendees this year, I was told. The giant hall at the conference center in Chicago full of round tables did elicit a small gasp when I saw it on the first morning, while juggling breakfast plate and coffee cup and quasimodoed by my laptop in my shoulder bag. Imagine your debs (if you’re Irish), or a sit-down dinner at a wedding, and then multiply by a couple of hundred, and you have some idea of the scale.

But after breakfast and the keynote speeches, we all broke off to go to our sessions, as if after an English lecture in Theatre L you went to a Spanish tutorial (if I may continue with my UCD reminiscences), and then you were in a room with only fifty or a hundred or maybe ten other people, depending on what you chose to attend. In fact, the whole experience was a little like university, distilled and then concentrated and then scrunched up into two very fast days.


I may have arrived with some notion that all the business cards I handed out would translate instantly into new loyal readers, perhaps catapulting me into fame and fortune; but the sad truth is that the “big” bloggers, even the ones who might have my card now, are too busy tending to their own empires, and their own real lives, to take the time to read and love and then blogroll little ol’ me.

That’s okay. I can’t please all the people all the time, so I’d better just please myself. That’s why I went to the session called The UnMarketing Manifesto, why I went to the writing panels. My blog’s purpose is to make me a better writer; that’s why I started it, and I don’t want to lose sight of that in all this friend-making kerfuffle.

The truth is that I probably won’t end up adding all the cards I got to my blog reader, even though I’m following everyone I met on Twitter. And they won’t all add mine. And while it’s nice to be told that I’m a nice person, or that I’m fun to hang out with, what I really want is to hear that someone enjoys reading my blog.

Am I weird? Is that not, um, normal? Oh well. Thanks for being one of the ones who’s reading.

Chicago River at night

13 thoughts on “BlogHer ’13: But Maud, how did you FEEL about it all?

    1. Maud

      DC would be great … it’s just that our 10th wedding anniversary is at the end of July and I might have to be somewhere else. If my husband takes me to Venice, like.

  1. Cheryl Stober

    I’m here! I’m reading. Though I’m not a big name that can help much. But I do plan on updating my blog roll soon, and I’ve already added you to my feedly. It’s just the damn job and parenting getting in the way of my being all blog all the time this week. πŸ™‚

    1. Maud

      Oh, tell me about it. My kids are horrible this week and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I keep ignoring them to check Twitter. Ahem.

    1. Maud

      You didn’t need business cards because your blog was Mentioned in Slides. (That’s like mentioned in dispatches, only with fewer trenches.) Thanks for reading!

  2. Thrift Store Mama

    I find it funny when the “big” bloggers (or those who pretend to be big) lament the days when they had time to connect with readers and to leave meaningful comments on others’ blogs. Ahem, many of us still make the choice to do that !

    I really enjoy reading your blog.

  3. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    I’ve loved reading your recaps as I belatedly try to write mine. I wish we’d been able to meet up before my phone died β€”Β argh! I’m glad you had such a good time, though. πŸ™‚


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