five things I loved about #blogfest15

Last Saturday I went to Mumsnet Blogfest. It was the first time I’d ever been to a blogging conference but it won’t be my last – I had a great time and returned inspired. The whole day felt like a huge “Yes!” and “Hooray!” for creativity and creative people. Here are my highlights:

Margaret Atwood Blogfest

Margaret Atwood (in Toronto at 4am!), Meera Syal, Bridget Christie, Bryony Gordon, Polly Vernon and Catherine Mann.

The five things I loved most about Blogfest:

1. Meeting other bloggers

I sometimes think blogging must seem, well, plain weird to non-bloggers: what sort of person would put their life online and share their innermost thoughts with whoever happens to read them? Bloggers understand all this though – the drive, the point, the benefits and the downsides… and it’s so good to get together and just talk. I met a couple of my online friends at the conference and made a few new friends too. I’m no social butterfly, so can’t pretend to have flitted around chatting to everyone but the conversations I had were good ones and the connections I made, real.

2. The Inspirational “Think Bombs”

I saw these in the programme and was intrigued – Sandi Toksvig OBE, Val McDermid and David Baddiel (I know – a non-too-shabby line-up!) would each be giving us a: “five minute idea-blast to inspire and entertain”. They did that and then some! Sandi Toksvig talked passionately about her political party – the Women’s Equality Party – in a way that really resonated with me (I’m writing another post in which I’ll say more), Val McDermid made my brain fizz with excitement when she talked about the power and importance of creativity and David Baddiel was hilarious while making some very important points about the nature of social media and our sense of self. Just, WOW. Five minutes each was nowhere near enough.

3. Fantastic panel sessions

The day started with a talk about ‘Motherhood and Creativity’ with a panel that included Meera Syal CBE and Margaret Atwood. Unfortunately the live link that was supposed to transmit the words (and no doubt great wisdom) of the latter was barely functional which was far from ideal but even seeing Margaret Atwood on a big screen beaming down at us was a thrill. Later in the day, Tim Dowling and Esther Freud were amongst a fantastic panel talking about Brevity in Writing (keep articles and posts to 800 words tops folks!) and the final session on ‘Public Stories of our Private Lives’ chaired by Fi Glover pretty much blew me away. The humour and honesty of the panel was totally inspiring!

4. Laughter

I hadn’t expected it to be a particularly humorous day although in hindsight, with that much talent and creativity in the building, I probably should have seen it coming a mile off. David Baddiel, Meera Syal, and Bridget Christie all made me laugh but it was the fabulous Shappi Khorsandi who stole the show – brilliantly witty and touchingly personal, she had the audience eating out of her hands. I’ll definitely be seeking out her stand-up show.

5. The opportunity to hear from, and interact with, inspirational people

I’ve already thrown a few big names into this post – I really was impressed with the calibre of the talent that Mumsnet had gathered for us. A great part of it was that plenty of them stayed to chat too. I had a lovely talk with Esther Freud (author of Hideous Kinky) and was completely unable to cover up my excitement at meeting Guardian writer Tim Dowling. He has three sons like I do, has been making me laugh on a weekly basis for years and, it turns out, is rather more handsome than I was anticipating. “Oooh, I love your column!” I squeaked “But you don’t always come across very well in it”, managing to accidentally insult him while also throwing in a bit of carry-on-style innuendo. I should probably work on my technique.

***

Those were the highlights for me. I’m well aware there was plenty more I could have got from the day – there were blog clinic sessions that I was too busy talking to sign up for, ’round-table’ discussions and ‘how to’ seminars that sounded great but clashed with other things I was seeing, and lots of sponsor activities that looked fun. You can’t do it all though and I guess there’s always next year!

Writing Bubble

26 thoughts on “five things I loved about #blogfest15

  1. Leigh - Headspace Perspective

    Fabulous, Maddy! I agree with your points – the video link was disappointing but it was wonderful just to feel in the presence of Margaret Atwood! I was sorry to miss the publishing session (I was chairing a round table) and your comment to Tim Dowling made me chuckle. Sorry we didn’t get to speak to one another! xx

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Leigh. There were so may good sessions – I wish I’d been to yours! Impossible to do it all though. Hopefully we’ll meet next year sometime. xx

      Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Glad you enjoyed it too! I think it was a good first choice of conference for me what with the writing focus. Maybe see you next year!

      Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      The motherhood and creativity was a good session marred by a bit of anti-men sentiment I felt. Others have written more about that topic. I have a feeling Margaret Atwood was saying positive things about her (male) partner which might have been useful to hear – so irritating that the link was so bad! All in all an interesting session. Has made me think. Such a good day though! Thanks for commenting Marija. xx

      Reply
  2. Abby Boid

    It was just the warmth and the approachable nature of absolutely everybody, no matter who they were, that blew me away.
    I went knowing hardly anyone and feel like I left with lots of friends.
    The think bombs, for me, were just fab. WIsh they had of gone on much longer.
    Hope our paths cross soon.

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Those think bombs! SO fabulous! I LOVED your panel session too – congrats on that and I really hope we get a chance to meet sometime! xx

      Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      I booked it on the basis of Margaret Atwood and the fact I felt it was the right time to go to my first blogging conference so I barely took in the amazing speakers till I was there! What a day! Thanks for commenting alice. xx

      Reply
  3. Carie @ Space for the Butterflies

    Oh it was just brilliant wasn’t it – I can’t decide which session I liked the best but the Think Bombs has to be up there along with Motherhood and Creativity – definitely a topic to strike a chord. I’m very excited to see who they can line up for next year because this will take some topping!

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      The think bombs were so fantastic weren’t they! This was my first blogging conference and I didn’t really take in who would be there apart from Margaret Atwood (who wasn’t!) so the speakers far exceeded my expectations. Can’t wait to see who they come up with next time either!
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m Writing – week fifty-fiveMy Profile

      Reply
  4. Sophie Lovett

    Sounds fantastic! I really wanted to go this year, but time just ran away with me… Such an inspirational range of speakers – though I would have been a bit gutted about Margaret Atwood. That is some wisdom I would like to hear! Looking forward to your follow up post about what Sandi Toksvig had to say – I’m in two minds about the goals of the Women’s Equality Party (mainly in relation to their views on SAHMs) but it would be interesting to hear more! xx

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Yes it was a bit gutting about Margaret Atwood especially as I think she was talking about her supportive (male) partner which may have changed the anti-men dynamic. Sandi Toksvig was fab – I’d barely registered the existence of her party before but she was so inspiring I was almost ‘where do I sign?’ afterwards! xx
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m Writing – week fifty-fiveMy Profile

      Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      I was so pleased to have gone! I know you’re not really in a blogging conference stage of your writing career any more but I’d still recommend this one (assuming they get a similr calibreof speakers next year) just because of the focus of the writing and how inspirational the speakers were. xx
      Maddy recently posted…#WhatImWriting announcementMy Profile

      Reply
  5. Rebecca Ann Smith

    Sounds great, what a fantastic line up! Also looking forward to hearing more about the Women’s Equality Party. I’ve always liked Sandi Toksvig, she’s clever and practical, and I’ve always got the impression that she’s honest and sincere too (all qualities sadly lacking in many politicians!)

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Sandi Toksvig came across SO well – clever, practical, honest and sincere as you say, and also witty with real warmth. I just need to find time to write another post – not that the five minutes she had to talk gave her time to tell us much. It was more a flavour than an information overload which was exactly why I liked it. Thanks for commenting Becky xx
      Maddy recently posted…What I’m Writing – week fifty-fiveMy Profile

      Reply

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