I've been thinking long and hard on how I want to write this post. I'm back from another Alt Summit in frozen Salt Lake City. For those of you who don't write a blog, this is a conference like no other, designed specifically for creative/craft bloggers like myself. Topics range from "The Business Of Blogging", "Personal Branding", "Pinterest Strategies", and "Growing Your Community", and keynote speakers included Mr.Pinterest himself, Ben Silbermann. Last year I threw caution to the wind and I bought a ticket. I only knew one attendee, and I had no idea what it would be like other than that the dress code would be strictly awesome and I needed to have knock out business cards. While I was there I spent a lot of time assessing how I fit into the big picture, feeling a little afraid that I would never really stand out, worrying a little that I might be medicore at the thing that I think I do best. Have you ever felt like that before? I can have a lot of self-doubt. Those inspirational typography posters that say things like:
...these are meant for me. I try to live with blinders on so that I don't get caught up in what everyone else is working on. When I lose focus, I inevitably start to question my own work. This brings me to the point of this post (finally). When I walked into the opening keynote speech at Alt Summit I was once again all alone, worrying a little about the things that do not matter like my outfit, and then there was Garance Dore, the charming and totally prolific French illustrator and blogger sitting at a lectern wearing all black. She said a couple of things that completely changed the way I approached the rest of my time at Alt, and got me thinking about why I am blogging in the first place. Here it is (I paraphrase):
I write about what I am interested in. If I lose some people along the way, that's okay, there will be new people, and they are there because they are interested in what I have to say.
When I write, I write to a singular person. This person is my "best friend". She is smarter than me, and she loves me for who I am. She completely supports me, but she will tell me when she disagrees with me. I write UP not down to her.
In french, "Niche" means "dog house". I don't want to live in a dog house.
I was so liberated (and uplifted) by what she said. In that moment, I took her approach to blogging and applied it to my time at Alt. I decided right then and there that my time would be best spent not worrying about what everyone else was doing, or wearing, or who they were. I would just plop myself down next to sweet looking strangers at lunch or in seminars and make friends. I ditched my elevator speech. I really talked to people, and I met some folks that I KNOW I will collaborate with; talented, interesting women whom I would never have really known that about had I not given the conversation time and attention. Most of the time, when I gave out my card, it was because I wanted to keep the conversation going! I decided against approaching any ill-fitting brands just because they were there, and I didn't stand in line for too long after a panel to meet the queens of blogging. I got something so very different out of Alt this time.
Because of my collaboration with Blurb, I was lucky enough to have a little corner of a party dedicated to my blog, and all sorts of people came over to talk to me. We talked about making books, their work, my work, and life outside of blogging. I met artists, architects, interior designers, foodies... my people. I got something so much more out of it this time, and it wasn't because of any panel discussion or singular piece of advice(except for Garance). I left feeling confident that great things are on my horizon, and that the measure of success is very different to different people, and that for me, making and writing is what I am good at and trying to be like anyone else, or selling myself short is the thief of my success.