Part of my BlogHer '09 wrap-up series

Lifted from my super secret (har har) new blog...



For my panel, we had a last-minute change in one of our panelists. Shameeka had a medical emergency, but she contacted Natalie P. McNeal who writes a similar type of blog
(albeit one affiliated w/ a newspaper) and she agreed to fill in. There
had been some emails flying around and we were supposed to get to the
room 20 minutes early to touch base. So I dutifully got there 20
minutes early. One by one we all showed up – except our moderator. She
was MIA! It got so down to the wire that we were getting worried she
might not show up at all, and I even asked Stacy to Twitter “does
anyone know where the moderator for the lifeblogging panel is?” (which she did!) Finally, with only a minute to spare, Maria showed up. I asked Twanna to record video of the session w/ my Kodak Zi6. We were all mic’ed up and ready to start.

I don’t know when I’ll get the video of the panel posted. There will
also be audio at some point. (All the panels were audio recorded and
will be posted on BlogHer’s site soon.) I think I’m going to need to
watch/listen back to get a better read on how the panel went overall.
It’s really hard for me to give a simple answer to that question.

There was a packed room for the panel, and we were in one of the larger rooms! That was exciting and scary at the same time.

When the panel started off, for the first ~10 minutes I was feeling
discouraged. I hadn’t been asked to speak yet. The conversation
immediately went to marketing and advertising. At one point I found
myself having thoughts like “Why am I even on this panel?” I felt
embarrassed sitting up there not having said anything. But there was
also the frustration of a marketing conversation happening in there,
where I was under the impression the topic of conversation would have a
much different focus. I felt close to tears at one point but did my
best to just put on my stoic poker face.

Finally somebody in the audience asked a question that gave me the
opportunity to speak. Maria asked me to talk a little about my blog,
the history of it, and what led to my recent decision to shut it down
after 7 years.

After that I got another question addressed directly to me and that
made me feel good. As the session went on I got a few more questions
addressed specifically to me. I was starting to feel better, even
excited – even, if I can sound perhaps a little cocky, like my type of
blog is why a lot of people came to this panel. All I know is, when I
said I was confused about why conversations about marketing and
advertising were happening in this session, there was
applause from the audience. People applauded after a few other things I
said too, and that was surprising (in a good way!) but I’ll take it!

We went right up to the time limit – the mic wrangler hadn’t given
us a 5 minute warning. I noticed people starting to pack up and leave
and I whispered to Maria (well, as much as you can whisper w/ a
lavalier mic on) “Are we out of time?” She looked at her watch and
realized we were, and so wrapped it up and thanked everyone for coming.

After the session was over, I went out in the hall to try to decide
where to go next, and a few people came up to me and told me they liked
what I said. That made me feel really good. Suzanne Reisman said she
agreed w/ my point about not liking the thick skin argument (you’ll see
it when you see the video) and that that’s not what she had been trying
to say. I told her I knew it wasn’t what she was trying to say – it
seemed like Maria might be taking it in that direction though, so I had
tried to stave it off.

Actually, here’s a quote of that part from the liveblog. The
liveblog doesn’t include the question/comment from Suzanne and I don’t
think the comment from Maria is totally right but hey, liveblogging is
hard! I’m not trying to knock it – just noting. :) This is a paraphrase
of what I said but you get the general idea. It’s something I’ve said
before, on my old blog.

Amber: I don’t like the idea that you have to build a
thicker skin. I disagree with that. It puts the problem on me – my
responsibility – the problem is with them for attacking me. I should
not be responsible for their bad behavior. When someone is in my space,
if they talk sh*t – I don’t hesitate to hit the ban button. If someone
came in my house and did the same thing, they would be out the door.

Oh, and it would be helpful to give the link. So, FYI – here is the official liveblog of the session.
Stacy was the liveblogger. :) The official BlogHer liveblogs are
intended as transcripts, and the liveblogger does not insert their
thoughts/opinions on the topics.

Throughout the rest of my time at the conference a few more people
approached me and told me they liked what I said on the panel. One said
“I really appreciated your honesty.” I’m never good at handling
compliments but it really made me feel good!

One thing I wasn’t thrilled w/ in my session was how it seemed like
some of the audience comments were going down the path of knocking
mommybloggers. I think we managed to stave that off before it got too
bad, but I wasn’t a fan. I understand that many women bloggers are
rightfully frustrated at all the marketing attention mommybloggers get
while other women bloggers are ignored. Personally, mommybloggers are
so completely off my radar screen that it doesn’t bother me, but I
completely understand the frustration. But that is a problem w/ the
marketing and PR people, not the bloggers. Mommyblogging can be a form
of radical truth-telling – and indeed, those are its roots. So it is
very relevant to the topic of the panel. Sure there are mommybloggers
who just write posts like, “Oh, my kids can do no wrong and I’m a
perfect parent and here are 50 pictures of my 5-year-old” – but there
are annoying/stupid bloggers in any category you can point to. I keep
coming back to a comment made at the “Online Safe Spaces” panel (w/
Susie Bright!) at BlogHer ‘07,
where a woman in the audience said blogging about her postpartum
depression gave her the strength to give voice to the things she wasn’t
supposed to say as a “good mother,” like the fact that sometimes she
wants to throw her baby out the window. Just like I said on the panel:
there is power in women talking about the things we’re not supposed to
talk about. (I used the word “empowering” and immediately wanted to
kick myself. When I get nervous, my inner thesaurus shuts down and I
use go-to words that I hate.)

And as someone affiliated w/ BlogHer said this weekend (can’t
remember who – Elisa, maybe?) remember that five years ago,
mommybloggers were nobodies as far as marketing people and “serious bloggers” (ie, dudes writing about tech and politics) were concerned.

As a final comment on my panel, I was disappointed by how much of it
ended up being about marketing, advertising, PR, monetization, etc. –
but the parts that were about the power of women sharing our lives, I
think really resonated w/ people, if the applause is any indicator.

After my panel, I had been planning to go to the “You are not your
disease, you just blog about it every day” panel, but I was all keyed
up and felt like I needed some down time. So I went and sat in the
speakers’ lounge and listened to the lite ’80s XM station on the vTech
radio. Yesterday I read the liveblog of the session and it sounds like
it was amazing. I’m sorry to have missed it, but I think it would have
been overload at the time. I’m looking forward to listening to the
audio of it. It’s definitely true that when you write about living w/ a
disability, chronic illness, whatever, people want to put you into a
box (often because of their own discomfort), and it can be frustrating
as hell.

Stopping here – maybe part 3 will be the final installment of the
wrap-up? I still need to talk about the Community Keynote and the
conversation Heidi Miller and I had while lounging on the secret sun



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