Tag Archives: #blogfest15

five inspirational quotes from #Blogfest15

Last month I went to my first ever blogging conference – Mumsnet Blogfest. It was fantastic. I’ve already written a post about how much I got out of it but I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to say in one post without it becoming ridiculously long. I wanted to write more about the inspirational aspects of the event though, so I’ve decided to share my favourite quotes from the day. (N.B. I made a note of these as they were said but can’t promise they’re word for word quotes. Often I was too gripped by the speaker to do more than glance at what my pen was writing.)

#blogfest15 panel

Five inspirational quotes from Blogfest:

1.

“Creativity is the road to revolution. It is challenge. It’s the way we fight back against those who would oppress us. So embrace it, whatever form it takes”

Val Mcdermid

I loved this. Val then went on to say that if anyone tries to “burst your creative bubble” you should tell them to go away or “put it more forcefully using a phrase involving sex and travel… “. She was really funny and inspiring and made me realise the real power involved in creativity. That literature, art and music make us think and question everything around us, opening up the world and encouraging humanity towards all sorts of achievements. So don’t doubt yourself – go, create.

2.

“Social media is where we raise a little flag of self. Offence is used to put wind in that flag.”

David Baddiel.

Ok, this isn’t really an inspiring quote so much as a thought-provoking one. David Baddiel was, as you’d probably expect, very funny and insightful. He showed us lots of examples from his Twitter feed of how easily offended people are by him. You could see in the zealousness of some of the tweets how much those people were actually rather enjoying taking offence and how it was making them feel more important – in classic bully style. As he was talking I could visualise everyone on social media desperately waving their little flags, trying to be seen amidst the masses. It made sense of how I feel on Twitter (teeny, tiny) and why trolls do what they do.

3.

 “Equality is better for all of us: it is better for our daughters. It is better for our sons.”

Sandi Toksvig OBE

Sandi Toksvig was talking about gender equality with reference to her own political party – the Women’s Equality Party which believes “Equality for women isn’t a women’s issue. When women fulfil their potential, everyone benefits.” – something I wholeheartedly agree with.

I’m frequently staggered when I read statistics about inequality. Even in this country there are huge divisions between the way men and women are treated and it seems to happen across the board. I was reading an article recently that suggested you are far more likely to get a publishing deal if you submit a manuscript under a male name rather than a female one. Yes, here in the uk. yes, now, in 2015.

But lack of equality isn’t just relevant for us as women, it’s relevant for men too. The sexism that props up our system starts when our kids are tiny. It is there when girls are called ‘bossy’ (while their male counterparts are rewarded for ‘confidence’). It’s there when we praise our daughters for their looks rather than their brains, and laugh off our sons bad behaviour with ‘boys will be boys‘. And don’t get me started on “he’s just lazy – typical male!” that I’ve heard mothers fling at their young sons.

None of these gendered expectations are helpful. Bit by bit they teach our kids that some things are ok for boys and not ok for girls, and vice versa. It constrains and alters them as kids and affects their choices as adults. We need to treat our boys and girls equally so they can grow to be the people they are meant to be, not into the roles society expects of them. Equality is better for all our children.

4.

“As bloggers, authenticity is key. Trust is your power.”

Jude Brookes

This was during a session on ‘building your brand’ and Jude Brookes was reminding us that, as bloggers, we are free from the constraints that writing for another publication or speaking for a company would place us under. We speak for ourselves and if we are authentic people will come to trust us. She encouraged us to focus on telling engaging stories and building relationships. 100 engaged readers are more valuable than 10,000 twitter followers who you never interact with (and may well be ignoring all your tweets anyway).

This resonated with me as I do sometimes wonder if I should write in a certain way – follow a few more trends perhaps? – to get more followers (not to mention promoting myself more which I am rubbish at). I have worried about the risks of being too open in the past and held back a lot. Jude made me reflect on the value of honesty and it was good to have the idea of ‘quality over quantity’ reinforced by a brand specialist.

5.

“Could I have my photo taken with you? And Maddy, I can take a photo of the two of you together if you like…?

Sumbel Gilani

This was when the lovely Sumbel from Mama Not Dumber– my friend of a mere few hours at that point – asked Tim Dowling if she could have a photo with him and also encouraged me to do so too. This was obviously very excellent because it meant I got THIS photo!

tim dowling

Tim Dowling had his arm round me. I simply couldn’t hide my glee.

But it was more than that – Sumbel knew what she wanted and went for it. And she was lovely enough to notice that of course I too wanted a photo with this talented, funny (and handsome) man. Given we’d only met that morning, it was pretty insightful of her…. or perhaps I was a little too obvious in my fandom. But anyway, the fact is, she asked something I didn’t dare ask, was thoughtful enough to take me along for the ride and, in doing so, gained me a memory that makes me grin like a cheshire cat. A lesson in ‘going for it’ if ever there was one. Thanks Sumbel.

So, what have I taken away from these quotes? Be brave, be honest, be creative – and do so for all our sakes. Be thoughtful. Wave your little flag with kindness and empathy, rather than anger and offence. Let the winds of creativity and passion fly it high. Believe in yourself and go for it.

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This week ‘The Prompt’ is ‘believe’ which fits with the overall feeling of self-belief I got from Blogfest.

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Also linking with Victoria’s last ever #PoCoLo. Thanks for being such a great host all these years, Vic and good luck with your blog’s new direction.
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how grateful should we be?

Saying ‘thank you’ is important isn’t it? And it’s a good thing, right?

The reason I ask is because during the first panel session at Blogfest (which I went to on Saturday) women were advised to ‘stop saying thank you for everything’. It was part of a session on ‘Motherhood and Creativity’ which discussed the idea that most of the childcare burden is still shouldered by women and that this could impact on our ability to be creative. The panellist who said we should ‘stop saying thank you’ wasn’t suggesting we should be deliberately rude, just that in being grateful we are perpetuating the idea that we should be doing all the childcare and household tasks. That ‘thank you’ suggests we are considering ourselves lucky that the men in our lives were helping at all.

bird and sunset

Hmmm. Now, that particular session was a bit contentious. There were some – and I was one – who felt the tone taken at time was distinctly male-bashing (I could write a whole other blog post about my feelings on that subject – you know the whole ‘my husband is irritating me at the moment so let’s all throw our hands up and say “men!” dismissively’ thing that some women get into) but it was thought-provoking for sure. Does saying ‘thank you’ suggest ‘I should be doing that so I’m glad you are instead’? Can’t it just mean ‘one of us needs to do that and I appreciate it being you this time?’

Is there not huge power in saying thank you? I don’t mean crazy-ass, power-hungry, ‘I want it all!’ power, I mean the simple, genuine power to make someone feel appreciated. To show them that you care, even simply that you’ve noticed? I think so.

My husband and I are bringing our boys up to say ‘thank you’ (amongst other good manners) and part of teaching them that involves leading by example and saying thank you to them a lot too. When they hang their coats up I say ‘Thank you, that’s considerate’, when they do something nice for each other I say ‘Thank you that’s kind’. I often encourage them to say thank you to each other. You could say that I should simply expect good behaviour and not thank them for it. Why should they be thanked for clearing up their own mess? They should just do it!

I wish they would ‘just do it’ more often I have to say! But they do like it when I say thank you and it DOES have a positive effect. I’ve found when I say thank you to my husband for cooking the evening meal (which, incidentally, he does as often as I do… possibly more) then the boys chime in too. Even our toddler pipes up with ‘Thank you ‘lishus tea Daddy!”

As parents is that not where the real value of saying thank you to each other – regardless of gender – lies? To show our kids that meals being on the table, clothes being washed, rooms being tidied doesn’t just happen; that someone has to do it and that we do it for each other. And we appreciate it.

Personally, I love it when people say thank you to me. So I will continue saying thank you to my husband and I will continue saying thank you to my sons, not because I should be doing everything but just because saying thank you makes them feel noticed and appreciated. And being noticed and appreciated is a vital part of any successful relationship.

Thank you for reading :) and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Linking up with The Prompt at Mum Turned Mom. This week it’s ‘gratitude’ – thank you for the inspiration Sara!

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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!

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