So last week was filled with a road-trip to Nashville for the Blissdom conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Not only did this mean getting to catch up with so many bloggers I know and love, many of whom I consider friends, but it also meant several days away from work, bills, and the crippling stress I’ve been feeling lately. In other words: I desperately needed this trip.
First: the location was beautiful. The Opryland Hotel is too amazing to be believed. There is an indoor river, people. AN INDOOR RIVER. It’s like Las Vegas in Tennessee. And the conference had a lot of great perks, including a private concert by Harry Connick Jr. on Friday night.
There was also the unexpected perk(?) of the National Tea Party Conference also being held at the hotel that weekend, including a guest appearance by Sarah Palin. Despite my having vastly different political views from the tea party attendees, watching Catherine (Her Bad Mother) discuss political science with men dressed as George Washington and Paul Revere was worth the entire trip. (Drunk on glory, Catherine!)
I didn’t approach Blissdom this year like I’ve approached past blogging conferences. While I still cared about what I wore, I wasn’t frantically rush-ordering new business cards or thinking about what kind of swag I could give out to be noticed. My game plan for Blissdom was simple: have fun with friends, maybe meet some new friends, and learn more about blogging and/or myself.
I succeeded in my plan.
I laughed more in that half-week than I have in probably a month or more. I filled my days with friends and fun. After four years of knowing her online-only, I finally had the chance to hug Amy, aka Mrs. Chicken, in person. And in meeting her, I was relieved that she was everything and more that I expected her to be. Spending time with her was like visiting with an old friend, because at this point she is an old friend.
At past conferences, I was often more aggressive at seeking out new people and “networking” to build my blog presence. However, I’m burned out on networking for the goal of building a brand or blog audience or popularity or whatever is the current buzz word of the moment.
So I took a more laid back approach. I was happy to fall into conversations when it was natural. I loved being introduced to women that my friends already knew – in every case, I saw why my friends liked them and found myself liking these women in return. But I felt no need to force myself into a conversation, and most of the time I forgot to even give anyone my card unless they gave me theirs first.
(Also? I used up the few leftover business cards I brought with me. I will have to get more for the next conference.)
As for learning more about blogging? I did a little of that, too. While I was tempted to go to sessions on monetizing your blog and growing your readership, I instead decided to stick with the basics of how to write a good story and how to let my voice come through my writing. I think I’ve been fairly good at those in the past, but of late my story has been getting lost. I want to find that story again, somewhere in the fog of working night shifts and sleepless days. My own days aren’t coherent, and as a result my story is disjointed and fractured as well. I think finding my story again will go a long way towards my 2010 resolution/goal/whatever of finding happiness again.
Oh, and I also learned that I can get up the nerve to sing karaoke without a single drop of alcohol in me in front of a room full of women I adore and admire. That took a whole new level of bravery, but I’ll say I had a lot of fun and will likely do it again. (Thanks, Casey, for helping me get up the nerve to do it, and Mishi and Heather for joining me on stage!)
After the disillusionment I felt after BlogHer last year, I’m now looking forward to BlogHer 10. Blissdom, this smaller conference that reminded me a lot of BlogHer 06, helped me throw away all of the stress of jockeying for position with my blog and simply enjoy the community and friendships I’ve made along the journey thus far.
Blissdom was truly bliss.