Life is in the margins

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People go to blogger conferences for about as many reasons as people blog. I went to the first one hosted by WordPress in Portland a few weeks ago with the simple goal of being inspired, and learning how to navigate Portland by bus, without a phone.

I had to leave early, but knew I’d gotten my money’s worth. On the drive back to Seattle I stopped twice at Rest Areas to write, to remind myself why I blog here, and the question of What’s Beyond.

On the first night, they had a mixer at the hotel in downtown Portland. I stopped at a bar beforehand and met a librarian who asked what I was doing there: I told her a blogger conference and she laughed, and asked what do they talk about at blogger conferences: blogging?

She was there for a librarian’s conference, on Day 3 with another day to go, so I asked what do they talk about at librarian conferences? They talk about the future.

At the mixer, they had four writers read from their works or talk about how they got to where they are. I sat in the front row and met one of the writers, who asked what it is I do. I said I write and she said for who, and I said for my readers — and she said that’s a good answer.

And it’s probably not anything like Coming Out — going to a blogger conference to talk about why you blog — but it was awkward for me, who hasn’t got the elevator speech down: and when the librarian asked me as a kind of warm-up, she said let’s rehearse so you’re ready to talk about it at the conference, it came out of my mouth like uncooked eggs: I’m a writer with a writer’s blog blogging about writing.

At the mixer, people clumped up as people do in these settings, and I overheard some of them exchange names of professors at Columbia, of MFA’s, and I immediately resented them and went to a dark place on the edge of the room. It’s good, because on the drive home I recognized that feeling for what it was, envy and insecurity, and knew were it me, I’d love to talk about my MFA, my professors at Columbia.

But there is something to sitting in an audience and watching people on stage who are just like you, but have done something remarkable that maybe you’d like to do yourself. And there was a great variety of writers and business people who’d found a way to make it, or a route where they will, by way of the blog.

I started this blog up again in 2012 after reading my step-dad’s Wiki page. He’d been dead a few years and I didn’t know the page existed, and stumbled upon it, with references to me and my mom.

And I felt such an emptiness after reading it because like all of us, our lives can be reduced down to a few paragraphs, a 60 second read. But there was so much more to him I knew, because real life happens outside of the milestones and major events. And it was that realization that made me want to pick up my own life and start looking at it differently, to think every day could be noteworthy and interesting, and if it’s not…well, that would be too bad.

I’m 10,000 words into the first draft of my memoir with 40,000 more to go to meet my goal. And whether it really happened at the blogger conference or not, I credit those stops I made at the Rest Areas off I-5, the feeling of energy and belief I had, of knowing what I need to do and doing it.


The blogger’s conference is a brilliant idea, quite affordable and worth it. It was well organized in a laid-back but dialed-in fashion which isn’t easy, although they made it appear so. You can read more about it at the Press Publish site here, with an upcoming event in Phoenix this weekend.

 

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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33 Responses to Life is in the margins

  1. alesiablogs says:

    I am so glad you shared about this conference. I wanted to go, but I was kind of turned off by it from a friend who thought it could be a waste of my time. I should have went anyway. This is an inspirational post Bill. I write for my readers and I write for me. I love why you write. Funny enough, I talk just about this subject on my post today. How fucking crazy is that? Have a great day friend.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Oh too bad you couldn’t go – was well worth it, for me. Well organized and good content, good people. Perhaps they will host in Seattle one day. I hope it takes off and believe it will. Great to hear from you and will have to check your post now. – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is way cool. I had no idea this existed..I would have loved to be there. Thanks for sharing

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Sure, my pleasure! I was glad I heard about it, but things can easily get missed in our in-boxes, right? One possible thing they could consider is more notice maybe when they do these in the future, but I’m sure they put a lot of thought in it, it showed. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your Tuesday! – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  3. rossmurray1 says:

    Knowing what you have to do. Like a mission. A mission from god.
    “Are you boys the police?”
    “No, ma’am. We’re bloggers.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Yeah, I should have worn my Blues Brothers outfit…next time. I didn’t realize how much an introvert I am. I didn’t used to be that way, not sure what happened. Nothing here to see, really!

      Like

      • rossmurray1 says:

        Insecurities are kryptonite for confidence. I have to give a speech on Friday. I had something serious all prepared. But then I saw my opinions for the clay-footed beasts they were. So I’ve scrapped it all for jokes about my insecurities with French. Deep thoughts exchanged for cheap laughs.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        Aye to that. And you will go far shooting from the hip with your quips on the French. Bien sur.

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  4. walt walker says:

    This post reminds me of a screenwriter’s conference I went to in Dallas. I felt a lot of the same feelings there. I was not made for conferences, nor they for me.

    So, if you could choose to go forward as a writer or a blogger, which would you choose?

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Why I’d choose both I think, mistah! How about you? Or can I choose both? Too late.

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      • walt walker says:

        You can certainly choose both! I would choose writing, which I used to equate with blogging, but no longer do. Blogging is something else entirely, I’ve learned. A lot of bloggers call themselves writers, but in my mind, writing is a profession, and blogging a hobby. I know I’m in the minority on this one, as the number of blog posts on the topic of whether one is a writer is just about infinite, and the consensus opinion seems to be that if you call yourself a writer, you are one. I disagree. As for me, I’ve written some things. I have a blog. But my profession is retail management. I am a middle manager for a Fortune 500 company. I take care of my yard, and it looks pretty good. But I don’t call myself a landscaper. I replaced the faucets in my bathroom, but I don’t call myself a plumber. Same with writing. I’ll call myself a writer when it’s my profession. To me, the title of writer is an almost sacred thing that has to be earned. My opinion. Others will disagree.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        Somehow I missed your comment when it came through, then I read it yesterday morning and spent most of a 3 hour hike composing a response, which may be in the form of a post (because yes, I’m a mixed writer/blogger myself)…and if I do, I’ll send to you to review before I post it. I like the logic of how you present this and it’s got me thinking, thanks Walt.

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  5. First of all, I had no idea there was such a thing as blogger conferences. Really. I knew about BlogHer but that’s about it.

    This is an extraordinary post. It hit me in the belly because those reactions you had were the exact same reactions I would’ve had. Why can’t I name-drop Columbia profs? Okay. Scramble two.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thanks Mark. I am guessing I heard about the conference because they targeted the invite to people within geographic proximity to Portland, and they’re probably piloting the idea of the conference to get it scalable for other cities. But that’s me imposing my former corporate construct, probably. I’m glad this hit you in the belly, even though I wouldn’t want to do that physically you know. “Extraordinary” is a good word and thank you for using it here. Enjoy your day. – Bill

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  6. Dina Honour says:

    You don’t need no stinkin’ MFA.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thanks Dina – might have been a good idea a while ago, but I’m happy how I am. Funny, this thing. I’d love the opportunity to do that but won’t likely happen. Did you study writing in school? I did but many years ago. And I wrapped myself up in some arrogance that thought I didn’t need any more school.

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      • Dina Honour says:

        My undergrad degree is in creative writing. I certainly learned a lot and use a lot of what I learned in my current writing. But I also think age and experience have played an even bigger part. I guess I worry about the MFA conundrum–part of being accepted to a program is having bragging rights–I am a good enough writer to be accepted (which, as writers, I think we all crave to a certain degree–am I good enough? Do I have what it takes? etc.). Yet I think the potential for creative paralysis in that kind of setting is legitimate. Would I love to meet in a group and discuss each work and get feedback with like minded individuals? Yes. But I worry that doing that in an academic setting can be too academic ;-). I guess what I’m trying to say is that at my rapidly advancing age I feel like writing and writing with passion and frequency is far more useful than writing in an academic setting. And I’ve said this before, you’re too good a writer to get caught up in anything that would stop you from writing.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        “Too good a writer to get caught up in anything that would stop you from writing.” That’s beautiful, what a compliment Dina, thank you! I reread your comment here because it’s similar to thoughts I’ve had, and reservations about the workshop setting. Though I think it would be a funny story unto its own. I sat in many classes like that in my undergrad, about 20 years ago, and there were some truly funny characters and comments, as you would expect anywhere. I loved your post today — going back over there now. Thanks for your encouragement, means a lot.

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  7. ksbeth says:

    it sounds like a great idea, bringing all these minds and words together in one place. also happy you are on your way with your memoir )

    Like

  8. Writers without MFAs: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Mellville…I could go on, but as I was telling my wife the other day, there are some really talented writers I follow on WordPress, you’re one of them.

    Like

  9. vickyvix2 says:

    I’m brand-new to WordPress and am happy to have discovered you (that makes me sound like an agent or something…before you get too excited, you should know that I’m not…sorry.). Sounds like the conference was a real inspiration. Love this: “But there is something to sitting in an audience and watching people on stage who are just like you, but have done something remarkable that maybe you’d like to do yourself.” Oh man, how often have I had that feeling – of holding back an idea, only to have that idea expressed by someone else and praised? I’m glad you’re getting your words down.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Hi Vicky – thanks and welcome to the ‘WordPress pool,’ as it were. I thought you might be a robot at first but was so happy to realize not. (There’s not too much spam here, but it does happen from time to time.) Yes, the conference was great for me and if they come to a town near you, I’d recommend it. I’m glad this resonated with you, because I think it’s pretty common, for people to get inspired by watching others present work or accomplishments they’ve made — it’s a reason we watch key note speakers at events, to be inspired. And they were good, I thought. Depending on your goals with the blog, it can be a constant game of keeping yourself afloat and your confidence up, if you’re wanting to use it as a ‘storefront’ to display what you do or who you are, and wanting to get noticed or some interaction with people. An image I got out of the conference is that of publishers (agents as you say) in search of undiscovered, talented writers and the same undiscovered, talented writers in search of publishers. The image is we’re all sleep-walking with our arms in front of us occasionally bumping into someone else. Well, that aside — thanks for stopping by and enjoying your weekend, and your time on WP. – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • vickyvix2 says:

        Laughed out loud that you thought I might be a robot (because as I was writing that I was new here, I realized how bot-like that made me sound!). I’m not sure I have a goal for my blog other than to get back into the blogging hobby I was once obsessed with (back in like, 2000-2007). It was fun. Thanks for your reply! Comments and replies were always half the fun.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        You’re welcome Vicky – hope it’s a good thing for you to be back ‘on,’ and I’m not enabling you here. I have that enabler in me. I like the comments and replies and you’re right; it’s half the fun probably. Here’s to not being a robot. Not until the Singularity, that is. Then we’ll be pretending to be humans.

        Liked by 1 person

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