I was not at BlogCamp Manchester in the UK today (organised by tots 100). Neither will I be going to CyberMummy 11 next week. However, I just want to say, after weeks of build-up from blogger after blogger.... I get it.
First the build-up. As a newcomer to blogging (five months on Sunday) and having received the advice of blogging friends to 'join the community,' I found a core of blogs that interested me. I followed them on their blogs and on twitter, I commented, I replied, and I put them on my blog list (for my convenience aswell as for them). Very soon I had a group of 'close friends' and a wider group of 'friends of friends' with whom I regulalry engaged or at least read.
Some months ago there started to be twitterings, mutterings, and references to CyberMummy 11: Are you going? Who is going? Who is your sponsor? How much are the tickets? Can I justify the expense? How do I get a sponsor? Etc, etc...
Then there started a whole wave of excitement about BlogCamp Manchester. No sponsors this time as it was free but, as the date drew nearer, the build-up... well... er... built up: What shall I wear (whole blog posts and surveys on the subject)? Am I crazy to be so excited? I can't wait! Etc, etc...
Well, I get it. I've got the blogging bug. I love writing my little thoughts and about my (not so little) experiences. However, there is no getting away from the fact that, although I spend far too many hours on it, all those hours are spent sitting physically alone with my computer. A whole community of virtual friends and supporters is great but, after a few months wouldn't it be nice to meet some of them and have a real conversation over coffee or something stronger? Wouldn't it? Of course it would.
Blogging is the perfect hobby for mothers, especially those with limited financial resources - it's free, there are no travelling or babysitting costs, you can earn money from your blog eventually, and it doesn't matter if you do it in your pyjamas with eggy stains down the front or at stupid o'clock in the morning. But even mothers (I include all the blogging fathers in this generality) need to get out and socialise with other adults sometimes.
Of course it is not only the social. It's also the subject. The chance to learn how to blog better and more effectively. To hear the success stories that will inspire you. To get ideas about growing your blog, your readership, and your earning potential. To be bouyed by the sheer professionality of blogging and to see it as a legitimate, lucrative and socially useful thing to do (as opposed to self-indulgent and somewhat twee - not what I think but it has been suggested by some ignorant non-bloggers). And, of course, to meet all those 'friends' that you know everything about except that you wouldn't recognise them if they sat next to you on a train.
I get it that you want to look your best. I get it that you would be concerned that the reality of you doesn't match up to the image you portray on your blog. Not to mention all the other usual insecurities - will they like me? Will I fit in? Am I sophisticated enough? And I get it that you are eager to discuss bloggy things with bloggy people who totally understand.
Many people who would have loved to have been at BlogCamp Manchester, couldn't go. I live in Jerusalem, Israel which is my excuse. Others have lammented on twitter that they couldn't find childcare, the train fare was too steep, one poor soul has toothache (I wish you better)... Much to my surprise, I found they were following the conference on twitter ( #blogcamp ). So I checked it out. And I learned some things. Obviously it's not the same as being there, but I get this also.
In the same way as writers go to writers' workshops, teachers go to conferences, and village idiots go to the National Village Idiots Convention (Woody Allen), I want to go to a blog camp (or should that be #BlogCamp ?). I hope you all had a terrific day and one day I hope that I'll join you.