I was one of the speakers on the My Blog My Story panel at the inaugural Aussie Bloggers conference in Sydney 2011.
I have had a number of people ask me to please publish the talk as there was a concurrent session on SEO and monetisation running in another room. This story that you are about to read wont be exactly the same as the one I told up on the stage, but it will be pretty close.
I love an audience and when I finally got up onto the stage to tell my story, my nerves instantly vanished and I had a blast. I spoke passionately and we laughed and we cried together.
My daughter Veronica introduced me with a list of the things that I am. It was a long list. It included words like, storyteller, environmentalist, film maker, writer,visual artist, curator, public thinker, mentor of young artists and gatherer of people.
I am all of those things and more. Here is, My Blog. My Story.
I am Tasmanian and there is something that you need to know about Tasmania, apart from the fact that we don’t all have two heads (flashes a bit of neck) is that in Tasmania you are either a greenie or you are not.
There is no in between, it is very black and white.(waves arms around for emphasis).
Over twenty years ago I moved from the city to a very, very, small rural community, where 99% of the population were, very, very definitely not greenies.
It is very easy to be a greenie in the city sitting in a coffee shop sipping a latte, it is a tad more difficult being a greenie when you have a log truck hard up your hammer, doing 100 clicks on a dusty dirt road.
Let me tell you a story to illustrate the isolation I felt.
When my daughter was about nine months old a local took me to playgroup, she failed to tell me that it was also a pre- Melbourne cup do and so I walked into this room full of impeccably dressed women, looking like something the cat dragged in and not one woman spoke to me.
Not. One. Word.
I spent the next two hours playing in the sand pit with the children, who loved me and my odd socks, and I was left wondering if their Mothers had little tiaras on, underneath their fucking hats. Needless to say I didn’t go back.
Fast forward to 2007 and try to imagine how I felt when my adult daughter tells me that she is moving even further north, further into the heart of Hilux country. As I was saying that is nice sweetie, inside I was going Noooo fucking noooo don’t do it. (covers face with hands to emphasise the horror)
The difference between my daughter’s situation and mine was that Veronica discovered blogs and blogging, and she connected with other isolated women with screaming, sleepless children. The connection with these women saved Veronica’s sanity.
Like anyone who has found something life changing Veronica wanted to share and filled with an evangelical fervour she made me set up a blog as well.
So you can all blame Veronica,(points) it is all her fault that I am here today.
With Veronica’s help I set up a blogspot blog and launched my thoughts out into the ether. I started to add photographs to my blog posts and I discovered two photography memes that I hesitantly joined. (This is where I plug my meme Sunday Selections, it is a great way to meet people. Come and play with me.)
Suddenly I wasn’t lonely anymore and the isolation that had seemed such a huge barrier vanished as I was connecting with like minded women and men all over the world. I could talk about politics and my concern for the state of the environment without getting into an an argument. I knew that if I jumped onto a plane to Alaska or Belgium,I had friends there and that knowledge was very comforting. My world had shrunk.
Whilst I was making friends all over the world my husbands disapproval grew. The Spouse really, really, really, disliked me being on the computer and he worried that you, my dear internetz were going to steal my identity, lift my credit card from the back pocket of my laptop or shock horror (pantomimes shock and horror) you were going to entice me into kinky cyber-sex. So I had to steal time to blog, or keep my ears peeled for his footsteps so that I could jump up from the computer and pretend I was doing something else, like (shudders) housework.
At the same time as my husband was worrying about identity theft, I was studying ceramics and struggling with my own identity. After a group discussion in one of my classes I decided that I really was an artist, not a student (does bit of a shimmy and waves arms about for emphasis) And I started to call myself a ceramic artist on my blog.
You know if you start to tell people that you are an artist, they actually believe you.
In 2008 My mother was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. A diagnosis of cancer within your family is very isolating, as people do not want to talk about cancer and they most definitely do not want to talk about death at all. (starts to cry) There is a strong stigma associated with Lung Cancer, it is a smokers cancer, a brought it on yourself, sucked in you deserved it kind of cancer.
My Mother was a non smoker.
So I reached out to my online community and you all held me in your cyber arms and gave me the strength to keep on going. (thanks kleenex for being a very handy sponsor)
In 2009 as my mother was dying in palliative care, my phone rang off the hook. In order to shut the fucking thing up I gave my blog address to Mum’s friends, co-workers and all our relatives.
The fucking thing went viral in my small community, every man and his dog had my blog address. I didn’t think about the ramifications of that until much later. For the moment I was just pleased that I could get information out there as quickly as possible and that my telephone was reasonably silent.
After my Mum had died I grieved her on my blog and once again the internet came to my rescue an example being the huge box of chocolates sent to me from a blog friend in Florida that the postage alone on was $100.
So it is late 2009, I am grieving my Mum and I am trying to come to terms with the fact that my blog is now no longer anonymous and a strange thing starts to happen. I don’t know if it is the passage of time or the fact that artists are allowed to be eccentric, but some of the women that shunned me in the very early days actually offer frosty smiles and small nods of their heads when they see me in the supermarket.(looks incredulous)
Early in 2010 my blog is nominated for Best Australian in the bloggies and within the internet this is kind of a big deal. When I show my husband the nomination he is totally chuffed. I overhear him telling his mates that his missus blog is best in Australia.(pantomimes a proud husband strutting) The bloggies nomination has removed any perception that my husband might have had that I was a total and complete nutter for writing on the internet. He still knows that I am just your ordinary every day nutter.
I was very proud to finish in second place in the voting behind the awesomely talented The NDM
Because of the bloggies nomination, I don’t have to blog in secret anymore. I can structure my time so that I can write in the mornings and my blog has become part of who I am.
Here I am in 2011 up on stage in front of a room full of bloggers telling you all my story.
Blame Veronica (points at daughter, again.) it is all her fault
There is a post script to this story. I have made you all some hand made ceramic beads but I wasn’t able to get them fired in time to give them to you so please leave a comment telling me you were at the conference or email me and I will post them out to you.