Last time: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/save-me-san-francisco-blogher-part-I/
Being around hundreds of others who do do what you do, the mantra “blogging is hard” gets reinforced and validated. I heard stories just like mine, mostly of a different gender, since I was one of few dudes at BlogHer.
“I write in line to pick up my kids.”
“I blog late at night after everyone has been asleep for hours.”
“I’ve done my best work on cocktail napkins while out at dinner with my significant other.”
I also met many people who do more than detail personal diaries of their kids’ adventures growing up.
Friday, day 2 of BlogHer, was my personal favorite as I learned the most about the conference and myself. This sounds ridiculously coy, but I had no clue of my audience. Sure, I’ve connected, online, with thousands of people, sold some books, and gotten positive feedback on the politics and pop culture site I tri-launched in January 2014, http://www.leftypop.com , but it’s hard to believe numbers and messages on a screen. By the end of breakfast, I’d met, face to face, so many people who’ve read this space and my other one; messaged, retweeted, shared, liked, favorite and emailed. Hugging and talking to people I’ve admired for years was overwhelming. Meeting people larger than their 200 x 200 avatars was a great feeling. I didn’t mind the worst breakfast burrito ever because the connections and conversations were unique and satisfying.
This experience was supported by the morning keynote speaker, Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. Her meteoric rise to internet fame was told brilliantly by her recollection of her first BlogHer, six years ago, meeting Dooce, arguably the web’s first celebrity blogger, Heather Armstrong. Lawson talked about “geeking out”, then pledging to write her own story and become successful. Lawson is a hero to many in the blogging community because of her plain-spokeness and championing of mental illness. I got close to her, about 15 feet, but several others were having their own moment with the star. Maybe I was witnessing the next Bloggess, hugging and complimenting their inspiration near the restrooms. It was like watching a real-life Behind The Music but with slightly less drugs and nudity. The Bloggess was the perfect role model for so many bloggers.
The first session I attended may have been the best and worth the entire trip. I sat in a panel discussion about book publishing with 4 successful authors including Kami Wycoff, whom I I’ve read and admired. My writing friend Rachel aka @rachelintheoc sat next to me and even helped me organize my own blog. She’s found a ton of success an a published author and her help will be invaluable.
Over the past 4 years I’ve written 4 manuscripts, including an 83,000 novel that lurks in a zip file, and three 45,000 plus word novellas, publishing two, The Ballad Of Helene Troy and Soul To Body on amazon.com for kindle and lulu.com in paperback. Reviews were good but sales were not and I wondered it I was doing it all wrong or wasting my time altogether. No one handed me a book deal or assigned me an agent, but the advice on networking and writing process affirmed my belief in what I’m doing.
Keep Putting Yourself Out There
At the end of the class, I pulled out a lighter and started to sway. Not really, maybe.
I figured out that talent and hard work find an audience you nurture. I slipped so many business cards into well connected fingers, I’m convinced 1 or 2 didn’t end up picking turkey sandwich morsels of their teeth later during lunch.
The afternoon session on freelance writing had nothing to do with me personally, although my name is Lance and I write a lot for free. Four writers, two of which I follow on the Twitter, Jenn Pozner and Liz Henry, talked about putting a price on your work and getting paid for freelance. I’ve done a little of this and learned I’m doing it wrong. Their were a lot of shocked faces and shaking heads as the panel lectured us on how to earn money for our magic. Selling your words can feel gross when it’s not a book or an entire website you run. The class showed me how to get over it.
As day two came to a professional close, I felt more confidence that I had in a long time. I’m not doing anything wrong, but I know I can do it better. Blogging and professional writing is frustrating when you think it’s just friends, foes, families and fellow freaks occasionally checking you out. I learned it’s more than that. I need to give myself more credit. Blogging is hard but there’s another mantra, you get what you give, especially for those of us with the dreamer’s disease. I should’ve sang that at karaoke.
Part 3 tomorrow night; killer karaoke, years of friendship made real, being late to the party was a good thing and breaking glass.
wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.
The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com