This was my first time at Blogtacular and nothing can prepare you really - the day whizzes past, you are bound to miss something, you will leave exhausted and buzzing. Well, that's how it was for me anyway.
And I wish I could do it every weekend - wouldn't that be awesome?!
I was incredibly lucky and got onto the Photo Walk in North London, wandering among the pretty houses of Primrose Hill. It was a great way to meet new people in a smaller group, before the big event.
Confession time - I didn't actually take that many pictures on the Photo Walk. I was having such a great time talk to the women I met that I just didn't lift up my camera or my phone as much as I normally would. And here's the thing - I didn't want to!
In fact, the whole event was like that. I had the camera with me the whole time, as well as my phone and they went pretty much untouched as I was having such a great time with the people and everything going on that I wanted to be in it, not viewing it through a lens.
However, that does mean I have very few pics, which is a real shame and is a balance I'd like to get right next year.
Later that day, after the Photo Walk, I headed to the West Elm Party, where, I confess, I spent most of my evening in the queue to get a painting from Ella Masters (totally worth it!). It was a great evening - but far too short! I think next year I'll definitely be doing more mingling and might try and get there before it starts, as I was half an hour late this year. (Honestly, you leave London for a couple of months and suddenly you forget how unreliable the Bakerloo line is from Willesden Junction).
The day itself was something else. I have honestly never known anything like it - literally everyone there was so open and welcoming, so ready to include you and get to know you. There were no little cliques and even people who were there with friends were so willing to usher you in (as I discovered when I ran over to Sarah of Crafts from the Cwtch to fangirl over the fact I was wearing her Colour Block Shawl)
Lisa Congdon was the Keynote Speaker and I bought her Fortune Favors the Brave book to get it signed because she was so incredibly inspiring (and what a souvenir, right?). Her talk was all about vulnerability. We as bloggers share a lot of ourselves online and while we can often suffer a 'vulnerability hangover' when we share something personal, our vulnerability is what makes what we do special.
'The things that you make cringe - that you are not a younger, prettier, glossier version of yourself, that's what makes you real to other people.'This. This spoke to me so hard. I was asked so often what I blog about and the first time I said 'making and lifestyle', but after that I amended it to 'making and life'. Lifestyle is great, but I am far to lazy to create beautiful glimpses of my life - it's actually much easier for me to offer up the truth, the good the bad and the ugly. I hope that is what people like on this blog. Something else Lisa said struck me - be vulnerable, you owe it to yourself and your readers.
A great follow up to this talk was Community, by Kate of A Playful Day. One of the things that I really want from this blog is to find my people, online, especially now that I am far away from the majority of my friends and Kate reminded us all that what we create are not glossy magazines, what we create are communities.
This is why we can wait for the story to be ready. While I am fairly open on this blog, there are things I keep back because they are too private or to raw to be shared just yet. That is the beauty of blogging - there is no deadline here. A story doesn't grow old. You can wait for the right time instead of rushing it out half baked.
Kate echoed Lisa beautifully when she said:
'When you show your imperfections - you are allowing your community to be imperfect.'I know I wasn't the only one giving all the 'yes!!' to that.
I didn't actually attend the second session. After Community, I had a chat with some of the lovely ladies I'd met so far and then dived into the vacant chair opposite Alison Sadler. Despite not knowing me at all, Alison greeted me with a big hug and we got so into our chat that I totally missed bagging myself a seat in Phoneography - oops! Worth it though, ended up having a cup of tea with a fellow blogger, which was a welcome oasis of calm.
Lastly, I attended Laura Jane Williams' Writing Workshop (who I had never read before, but my god, this woman speaks my language). It reminded me of old Creative Writing seminars and, while I didn't write anything in that session that I think worthy of sharing, I had a lightbulb moment - this is my blog. I don't have to write like a blogger. I can write like a fiction writer, I can write a haiku (I can write a mother-loving crazy long post) if I want to!
There is so much that I took away from Blogtacular. I'm still bobbing in the ripples even now. I'll be writing about that later, but for now - Kat, Kelly, all the amazing people who volunteered on the day and made Blogtacular happen - I salute you. You have built and continue to build something awesome and I cannot wait to do it all again next year!
With thanks to Will Ireland and Mollie Makes for the pics.