On Saturday I attended the Mumsnet Blogfest. This was the second year of the conference and the first time I had attended. I wasn't sure what to expect from this conference, last year I only recall hearing a lot about a certain Liz Jones, and having one of my post titles mentioned in her write-up of the event. I bumped into +Melitsa Avila outside the venue and we spent the rest of the day together! It was so nice to catch up with Melitsa over a tea and a pastry and to let my slight hangover start to ease. The first session questioned what kind of internet we want. Having watched the documentary where Richard Bacon found and confronted the internet troll who made his life a misery, I was interested to hear what he had to say. It was a great session to start off with and +Stella Creasy argued intelligently and succinctly. Exactly the kind of politician we need more of. Perhaps when I finish university in June then I may think of such a career.
The advanced social media session was useful and I already have my Canva account up and running. I just need to work out how to spend less time on and get more out of social media channels now! Perhaps that will be harder than I think. Time will tell. Paul Armstrong was a very engaging speaker and his session passed by in a blur!
I came out of the 'Think Bombs' session utterly inspired. I may spend the next few years emulating Professor Tanya Byron whose talk really was fabulous. An excellent brain dump! Professor Sue Black was also very thought-provoking and I can completely agree about confidence coming from education. It certainly has done for me and I really think you should have a look at the work she is doing with mums to savvify them through technology. Have a look at the site here. Jon Ronson told the story of when a spambot set up an alternate identity to his and his fight to reclaim his online presence. He also said that it appears to him that public flogging, which was banned in the 1830s has returned to the UK in force on the internet. Definitely food for thought.
I enjoyed the food at lunch, pie and cabbage with some really delicious puddings. During the lunch break I also took the opportunity to chat to some of the brands who had sponsored the conference. There were some great competitions going on and it was fun trying out the windsurf at the Mark Warner stand.
In the afternoon I have to admit to missing one session for the chance to have a couple of drinks with the team at Mark Warner. They did a mean 'dark and stormy' cocktail of rum and ginger which was absolutely delicious. They wanted to know a top tip for family holidays. Mine is to make sure you prepare for travelling with children. I wrote this post on how to keep children entertained on long journeys this summer which is full of top tips.
The 'how to tell a better story' session was really intriguing and it was so interesting to see different writers pretty much agree on everything. I hadn't really contemplated before about how the way we write could impact on our readers. I guess I have always written pretty selfishly before, but I will start to "take the reader by the hand" as A L Kennedy suggested. Both Cassandra Parkin and Lionel Shriver agreed that it is possible to write something well on the first attempt and have to do very little tweaking. Lionel also put forward the idea that there is no such thing as a first draft these days, just one continuously changing draft. I thought Rosie Fiore's statement "thinking about writing is not writing" was so very true. We can procrastinate all we like, but it doesn't actually get anything done. The only way to write is to write!
For anyone who was on Twitter on Saturday evening and saw the tweets, you will know that the feminism debate was rather heated, to say the least. I am not going to dwell on it, because I am sure so many others will. Needless to say, I found the question 'Can you be a 'mummy-blogger', and still be a feminist?' an utterly pointless and slightly dismissive one. I don't need anyone to define my feminism for me. In my mind, feminism is about equality. That's it. If someone says you cannot be a feminist because of the way you choose to live their life, then I think they have a rather odd view of equality and feminism. I don't care who you are or what you do, if you believe women are entitled to equality then, in my mind at least, you are a feminist. Also, serious kudos to +Ella Tabb for her intelligent and witty tweets. It was a real shame that the tweets were taken down from the big screen.
Luckily, after this rather tempestuous debate, the keynote speech from Jo Brand was lighthearted and kept me giggling from beginning to end. It was exactly the right way to end the conference, especially after such a frustrating panel before. Jo was very funny and gave top tips to a member of the audience who was contemplating taking up stand-up. I especially liked the tip about having five pre-prepared heckle put-downs, from light-hearted to nuclear!
I grabbed a very quick gin and tonic before I had to walk to King's Cross to get my train. I managed to get ID'd buying a couple of cans of mojito and subsequently had to drink them surreptitiously as I was on a dry train home! The day had been thoroughly enjoyable, inspirational and rewarding. It was well worth the cost and I hope to be going again next year. Thank you to Mumsnet and the sponsors for a really fabulous day.