Yesterday I got up bright and early, armed myself with my Hugo stars scarf and headed off to London for Mumsnet’s Blogfest conference.
My travelling companion was the lovely Carla and fellow Bedford-dweller from Random Thoughts of a Twenty Something, which was a great start to the day.
The day got even better when on arriving at the venue a lady approached me to ask if I am Hugo’s mummy. It was such a kind thing to do, and it absolutely made my day. The lady’s name was Sarah; we didn’t get a chance to chat much but Sarah, I wanted to say how much I appreciated that – thank you so much.
One of the things I was most looking forward to during the day was meeting bloggers who have become friends. I was delighted to meet and have hugs with Kerrie from Wife Mum Student Bum; Kiran from Mummy Says; Heledd from Running in Lavender; Lucy from Mrs H’s Favourite Things; Stephanie from Life at 139a; Hayley from Down’s Side Up; Sian the Potty Mouthed Mummy; Kerri-Ann from Life as Our Little Family, Victoria from Verily Victoria Vocalises and Emma from Me the Man and Baby. I even surprised myself by cuddling Emma’s beautiful baby, Charlotte – only the second baby I have held since my Hugo. If I met you and haven’t mentioned you I did enjoy meeting you – my memory has failed me!
The panels were excellent. ‘How does technology shape the way we think’ generated some interesting thought, including how today’s children live their lives online and the impact that has on them; a way to deal with trolls is to correct their spelling; that we share intimate details with others on social media, which has huge potential to help others (so true, I’ve had such support this year through social media). I was relieved to hear that Tim Dowling also dislikes removing spaces after commas in tweets in order to fit everything he wants to say in to the required 140 characters!
Finding out how to make use of Google+ was so useful, and I made copious notes. Before the session, I didn’t really understand how it works. In addition, already being on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram made me wonder whether being on another network was really worth my time. The answer is a resounding ‘yes’! Google+ has the potential to massively increase your blog’s reach, and as my blog is about raising awareness I shall definitely be investing more time in figuring it all out.
The Think Bombs were incredible: Camila Batmanghelidjh is always inspiring. Suzanne Moore’s writing rules included “A little passion goes a long way”; “Get out of your comfort zone”; “You are worth it” – and that there are no rules, yay! Francesca Martinez was especially inspiring, with her tale of how there is no such thing as normal, and that “Celebrating yourself is an act of civil disobedience” – I loved that.
Blogging can change the world, as the excellent panel discussed. The main points I took from the session were that the internet in general and social media in particular has opened up campaigning to people who previously would not have got involved; that personal stories are vital; you need to ask people to do something, to engage; you need to consider how to influence the influencers to engender change; and reach, or something going viral is not necessarily an indicator of impact. Possibly the most important message is: if you are passionate about something, do something about it – and I have passion in bucket loads for Hugo’s legacy.
The ‘Blogging and Self-Esteem’ round table was a great idea, with interesting discussions about the impact blogging has had on our lives – both good and bad. I was pleased to have the opportunity to talk about how writing about Hugo has helped me this year. I think we all wished we could have had longer, but there are so many hours in the conference.
Panellists on ‘The Power of Writing’ session were amazing. That a writer of the calibre of Nick Hornby can still be full of self-doubt gives us all hope, and I loved Lisa Jarmin’s top tip: “I am a writer because I said I was a writer…and then I was!” A bit of a scribo ergo sum… (I hope that translates to ‘I write, therefore I am’!).
Lucy Porter gave a hilarious account of being invited to speak on Radio 4 about the infamous penis cup but being taken to the wrong studio by a scary-sounding producer and nearly going live on the highbrow culture programme presented by Sir Melvyn Bragg. I don’t think I am alone in wondering what would have happened if Lucy had gone ahead on that programme…
The drinks reception with gin and tonics that went down far too easily was the perfect way to round off the day.
Oh, and a goody bag full of lots of lovely…goodies! They include Divine chocolate, Body Shop beauty serum, a Boden bag, a book, and a gorgeous snuggly scarf from Littlewoods that is so huge it is more like a blanket – I shall make good use of it this winter. Thank you to all the brands for the goodies.
An especially big thank you to Mumsnet for a fantastic day. I was inspired by amazing panellists; I met lovely people who have become friends in person; I ate yummy cake; drank delicious gin and have got lovely goodies.
Best of all though? Being identified as Hugo’s mummy. The number of kind people who approached me to say how much they like my blog. The subject of my blog is challenging and sad: I am genuinely touched that people do read it, and that it has had such an impact. I am overwhelmed to have helped change the way people see baby loss; it exemplifies the power of blogging.
As Lynn Barber said in ‘The Power of Writing’ session: “Just be yourself…but how do you do that if you don’t know who that is?”
Who am I? I am Hugo’s mummy. I am a writer.