This Isn’t About BlogHer 15

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Is it true that strapping young men hand-fed Chicken McNuggets into the mouths of attendees?

                                                                                                                                                       
I suppose you want details. Were there late night pillow fights? Drunken discussion, witless wandering, general jackassery? Is it true that at the closing party, strapping young men, henceforth dubbed McModels, hand-fed Chicken McNuggets into the mouths of attendees?

Yes, yes and maybe.

You know, at the (mostly) women’s blogging conference. That’s where your larger-than-life bloggers like Aussa and Samara collided (lovingly) and yours truly wedged herself in like a sprightly leaf of lettuce.

This is not about that. For that, I have video. I also have pictures – juicy ones – that I’ll include at the bottom of the rant you’re about to read. Consider the pictures a treat resulting from the guilt I feel for where I’m about to take you.

What this might be about is…commas. We’ll get to why conference women in tiny dresses evoke a diatribe on commas.

For starters, where do commas actually go, the ones that fall outside of basic punctuation rules? Such as, in the sentence, “supposedly one day soon,” shouldn’t a comma follow “supposedly”? Or does one leave it out as a stylistic choice to complement a conversational tone? But wait. It’s already a sentence fragment, so why fret over the pesky pause?

No wonder the squiggly little torturer looks like an upside down teardrop.

And quotation marks. Why does everyone – even reputable sites – insist on using them in the wrong place? I’m talking in the United States, where the period-and-comma-inside rule applies regardless of sentence logic (something to do with old printing presses).

Correct:
A comma should follow “supposedly.”

Incorrect:
A comma should follow “supposedly”.

The latter is how some publications would write it and they would be wrong. Way up in the sixth paragraph, a question mark ended up outside the quotation marks because that entire sentence was a question. I learned this by looking it up. There are loads of writing tidbits to discover and I want to know every one. When it comes to writing, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep learning.

Presumably, we also attend conferences like BlogHer to learn. Sure, there are myriad conference benefits, we’re told, like networking and opportunities for product growth, but by draping it all under the umbrella of “learning,” the conference markets itself to every level of beginner and expert.

While this post might be about pesky pauses that get in the way, it’s about the ones in the brain, not in sentences. It’s about perfectionism, that self-important mélange of obsessive nitpicking and vanity. It gets in the way of getting things done more than any other dysfunction. For example, I cannot sit down and wing a post. I second-guess every word and punctuation, and then philosophize over the second-guessing:

Why do I happily begin sentences with a conjunction or spurt out all those sentence fragments, yet work myself into a frenzy over a comma?

I know exactly why. My internal subset of guidelines decides for me which writing rules leave room for stylistic license, and which are like math. If you fuck with the rules of math, it’s not math anymore. When I’m not sure what rule befits artistry versus math rigidity, I research. Learning is fluid and doesn’t end. Some resources are more beneficial than others, but seeking learning always yields results, even when it’s not what you expected.

Last year was the first time I attended BlogHer. I like to try most things once as long as they don’t inconvenience me or clash drastically with my principles and health. Taking place in San Jose, last year’s BlogHer was driving distance and offered a reasonable student rate. Why not, I thought, so I attended and had a blast. But even though I participated in the sessions, I didn’t learn much. So when deciding to return to BlogHer this year, learning wasn’t a factor. Attending was again, merely convenient. This time it was taking place in NYC, my hometown, and as a benefit of being a Voice of the Year, my conference pass would be free.

A few blocks from where it all took place.

NY

Photo courtesy of Aussa Lorens

It makes sense that after a blogging conference, I would question what blogging even means to me. Once again, my inner subset of guidelines kicked in for me to understand my individual blog path.

“You’re a writer, not a blogger,” said one of my new in-real-life friends at the blogging conference. I always thought “writer” and “blogger” were the same thing. At least, in my mind, they should be. It’s true that my blog allows me freedoms other forms of writing don’t. It gives me irresistible permission, like communicating directly to the reader and breaking the fourth wall. It gets to be self-referential – I can go on neurotic tangents while writing about neurotic tangents. But I simply can’t write a post without applying a self-imposed standard of craft. I might still want to tell you about my crooked toe, but it has to be framed within a more intricate, bigger intention.

I didn’t attend a single session at BlogHer 15. When my blog is the one place I get to apply my personal subset of guidelines, listening to a bunch of blogging rules by others defeats the purpose.

The truth is, BlogHer is really for the powerhouse woman bloggers looking to make money off of their blog. The thrown-in sessions can be useful for blogging newbs and first-time conference attendees. But the rest of us ultimately go because we want to get drunk in real life with our blogging friends.

Those who accept and understand these simple facts about BlogHer won’t ever be disappointed. But a perfectionist might expect “more intricate, bigger” results that the conference simply doesn’t offer. The fact is, if you’re an intermediate or above blogger who doesn’t salivate at the idea of initiation into some influencer cult, if you don’t inhale the word niche and exhale it out at as monetize, if you don’t orgasm at product placement, BlogHer won’t teach you anything that Google can’t.

On the other hand, once you work past your expectations and the outsider-looking-in complex that plagues most of us, you’ll find the women you meet at BlogHer to be embracing and ridiculously fun.

With that, we reach the levity portion of this recap.

Geisha and Ninja reunite, and Ninja can’t contain her tears of joy!

GeishaNinja

 

In fact, everyone gets a little kissy, because…Samara isn’t shy.

BlogherKiss

 

Angelle makes a cameo appearance and gets hit with a pillow.

Pillow

 

Geisha and Ninja separate, but manage to get photo-bombed in different parts of town.

Photobomb

 

The aftermath. Samara gives us pain relievers and massages.

Aftermath

 

Samara is excellent at making friends. The McModel is not hatin’ it.

SamaraLovin

 
 
Cathartic Monkeyism

  • When you blog, you have license to tangent-off about commas and conferences all in one post.
  • I might be sick of doing Cathartic Monkeyisms and from now on will partake only when absolutely compelled.

~ But wait, there’s a second part to this year’s BlogHer re-cap, and it’s got video! ~
 
 


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40 comments

  1. Thank you for clearing up the purpose of BlogHer! I have no interest in niches or monetizing my blog, I just want to hang out with my awesome blogging friends! But when I tell my husband that I’m going to use all of his airline and hotel points to go to BlogHer next summer I’m going to make it sound real important and professional.

    And my writing is the only place in life where I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Not that it’s perfect by anyone else’s definition. I take a lot of creative license and have no problem using dangling prepositions or excessive use of ellipses… But, it has to mean something. At least to me. I can’t write about the mundane without a larger meaning. And I obsess. It takes a ridiculous amount of time for me to write and edit one blog post.

    And sigh… those pictures. You are all gorgeous and it looks like sooooo much fun…

    1. We definitely see eye to eye on the writing.

      As far as hanging out with our friends, as mentioned below, how wonderful would it be to plan a group getaway at a tropical destination?

  2. Your words and commas are magical, GG.

    1. And you are what Samara said in her post: A constant ray of light.

  3. Cool pics GG. It looks like you guys had fun.

  4. Why pay for conference passes for classes that won’t be attended? Let’s plan a blogger’s retreat in a super cool place like Las Vegas, or a tropical paradise-like kind of place!

    Also, this is a great recap of all the shit that you refused to be subjected to!

    1. That sounds amazing! And I also suggested it right after the conference.

  5. This was my first year not attending any sessions (just did Expo/Party) and there was a certain freedom in not feeling like I had to make my money back by attending sessions that may or may not fit the bill. Hell, I was willing to pay extra to AVOID having to sit and listen to Gwyneth Paltrow try to convince people that there’s a human being under that candy shell of hers. I had fun with my friends, I learned a couple things, and I won a Kindle Fire for my kid by tweeting a picture of myself. And I got several of those awesome sauce chocolate salted caramel bars, so it was a win.

    I think as long as people go into BlogHer looking for what they can make out of it, they’ll be fine. You make friends, you get some really silly pictures taken, and you ruthlessly hit on barely of-age hot cater waiters. What could be better?

    1. OK, so this chocolate salted caramel bar somehow eluded me and now I feel jipped! I did have eight or nine of those cream puffs though.

      Gwenyth turned out to be more human than expected, which was endearing but also a little boring. I wouldn’t know thoroughly though, I walked out.

      1. The chocolate bars were at Hologic – right when you walked in. I got extra from the moment I walked in because I knew the rep from flying out to San Jose with him last year. It was totally the JetBlue flight from Logan Airport to BlogHer. LMAO

      2. Oh my god. I’m having a sugar craving so vicious I can’t concentrate and this is no help! 😉

      3. You’ll make me run to the store yet…

  6. Amen. And bravo (brava?).

    1. Si, brava. And thank you!

  7. Beautiful, and in spite of the tangentials and the fact that your crooked toe can only make an appearance within a larger context, and the perhaps-necessary-if-you-really-want-to-spin-it-that-way, (which-you-totally-can-because-it’s-your-blog), diversion into the appropriate use of the comma, in or outwith the conjunction of a set of quotation marks, I ADORED your not-recap, and I love that you went and hung out and spent Real with your blogger friends.

    I always knew that BlogHer was like that, but I’m not inspired to write or attempt VOTY (congrats on that, btw) because even without the conference fee, the plane fee is inhibitive. A pity, as I would dearly love to meet you all there and have the same amount of fun and connection. It looks wonderful.

    1. I think you might just have to move to this country, Lizzi.

      1. Tempting. Very tempting. But first I want this date to happen in a coupla weeks…THEN I’ll decide 😉

  8. Clearly, I was just there to flirt with and kiss people. Mission accomplished!

    I’m grateful for the connection we established at BlogHer. May it thrive. xoxo

    1. Me too, my friend. Kisses.

  9. Because I’ve never managed to make it to one of these events I’ve always felt like I’m missing out. Glad to know I was right. Not about the workshops and breakout sessions, but the pillow fights and stimulating conversations over McNuggets and shots of Jack (the whiskey). Thanks for making me feel like I was there, without the hassle of wondering where I left my Spiderman slippers.

    1. The point is, we can all get together over a weekend somewhere resort-y without having to pay hundred of dollars in seminar fees. Wouldn’t that be fun?

      1. My family and I live on the Oregon coast in a town that is a huge tourist destination. It sounds like a typical weekend here. Maybe I’ll host BlogHer 2016?

  10. Your recaps never fail to entertain, GG. Sorry I missed out on seeing more of you, but enjoyed getting a little time. You’re so right, the best part is the connections made. From that stand point, BlogHer hasn’t disappointed yet. 😉

    1. It would’ve been great to see more of you. I really feel like my time was not used in the most effective way this time around and feel the need to make up for it. So I’ll probably be back!

      1. I know what you mean. But you were having a great time with friends, so effectiveness hardly matters, n’est cest pas? I’m in Israel right now: just became a grammy! Flying high. 😉 Maybe next time we can spend some time. I would have loved to, but didn’t want to bust in on things. Next time…

      2. Congratulations! You must be so excited.

        You most certainly wouldn’t have been busting in.

      3. VERY excited, very tired, and loving every minute…

        Thanks for that, but it was a clear that you have some close friends you were getting to connect with. We’re both on the west coast, maybe we’ll make it work another time. 🙂

  11. The “learning” part of these blogging conferences would be the least appealing part for me (but I’ve never been to one, so I wouldn’t know). While I do want to learn the proper placement of the commas and various other punctuation marks, I think that getting a grammar textbook from a library or Amazon would be the most logical way to learn it.

    1. Yeah, they don’t teach you about commas there (or much else, as far as I’m concerned). But the friends you meet in real life, that’s kind of wonderful.

  12. […] This isn’t about BlogHer 15 – Gunmetal Geisha […]

  13. Melanie · · Reply

    “But I simply can’t write a post without applying a self-imposed standard of craft and content-discrimination.”
    This. ^ I get it. I cannot cannot rapid fire a post and hit publish. I do sometimes put together a post very quickly, but it’s just to tell myself what I am going to write. I coax the nuance and flow, the length and depth of the sentences, the paragraphs, and the sharp light and long shadows of composed images, until it is presentable.

    1. Hello, you. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a single out-of-place word in your writing. I love that. And with your work, that’s just the tip. You have uncommon control of your craft.

      1. Such beautiful words. Even your comments demonstrate your dedication to artful writing.

  14. I love writing and I love my blog, but I don’t know how comfortable I will ever be as a blogger.
    I have thought of attending one of these though, but not sure it is worth it. Thanks for this post.

    1. It all depends what you’d hope to get out of it, I think. There are some people who go every year, so to them, it must be worth it.

  15. mylifeaslucille · · Reply

    My favorite part of blogging, other than the blogging part is the part where I don’t have to whore myself out to advertisers or monetizing networks. I would rather do what I do for free. That said, there are some seriously bad-ass writers who do it for a living and do it well. I can’t handle that kind of pressure, personally. It was fun to see you this year! Hope we can bump into each other again some time. 🙂 xoxoxo

    1. Did you see yourself in the video?

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