I am one of those crazy whackjobs who – when attending a conference – actually goes to sessions.
On Saturday, I went to a session called Where’s the Line of the Lie: Storytelling, Memoir, and Poetic License. I went because I thought, “Hey! What I write is memoir. I tell stories. This ought to be interesting.” Well, it kinda was and it kinda wasn’t. The panelists were good and funny and all of that, although it was weird that they chose Julie Marsh for the session, given that she kept saying she scrupulously avoids writing about the personal and sticks to the political or religion. Don’t get me wrong, she was interesting, I’m just not sure why they chose someone who doesn’t write about her life for a memoir panel.
“Well, because she’s a popular blogger,” someone told me.
I heard a lot of this over the weekend – popular, A list, big… whatever the term, there was a line drawn between the famous bloggers and us unwashed masses. It was like being in middle school all over again, except no one tried to cop a feel by brushing up against me in the hallway. Mores the pity.
The conference did a nice job of creating space for a few smaller bloggers, but the first three sessions I attended were all paneled by Big Time Bloggers, despite the fact that they weren’t always the best choices.
Bear with me – there is a point here.
Then I went to a fantastic panel called “Little Fish in a Big Pond: Understanding, Accepting, and Loving Your Small Blog.” I missed the first half hour because I was unconscious in my room, recovering from the hideous, hyena, fishwife of a woman, but when I arrived, the panel had already taken a turn. People were eagerly sharing stories of how to improve blog stats by making people accidentally end up on your site or how to change your focus so more people will read you.
So, because I have a big fucking mouth, I stood up and said, “My blog is called Wheels on the Bus. I get a lot of visits because of that title, but those people don’t stick around. I’ve been blogging for three-and-a-half years, and I’m not a big blogger. I could do giveaways and get sponsors and spend all day commenting on other people’s blogs so that they would come to my blog and maybe make myself bigger, but I’m not going to do that. Yes, we’re little fish in the big pond of blogging, but blogging is a very little pond in a very big world. I made a choice not to immerse my life so fully in it. And sometimes it’s really hard for me because I’m a writer and I am not getting the response and there are times I am jealous of the bigger bloggers, but I’m not compromising my principles.”
OK, maybe I didn’t say it exactly like that. But I basically said I am not going to try to sell people crap on my blog, even if it means I only have about twelve-and-a-half readers.
The next woman who stood up was awesome (if anyone knows who it was, please tell me). What she said was that maybe some of us have small blogs because we’re busy throwing our kids birthday parties instead of staging birthday parties that we can blog about. Whoever you are lady, you rock.
This was all in response to Nora, a panelist, who said, “Look, in this room, we all know who Dooce is. She’s famous to us. But we shouldn’t forget that there are millions of people who have no idea who the fuck she is.” Maybe Nora didn’t say “fuck,” because she’s kinda classy, but I think everything sounds better with a “fuck” thrown in.
Nora also rocks.
I think blogging has changed an awful lot over the last few years. Twitter and Facebook have taken over the conversations that used to be happening between all the small, personal blogs out there, and blogging has been commodified. Someone figured out how to make money out of it, and now the Big A List Popular bloggers are getting a lot of attention. It started as a place for free exchange of ideas, and it ended up as a way to sell laundry detergent.
BUT, I think there is still space for us little people. The ones who just want to use the internet for free speech, uncensored by the powers of the marketplace. Blogging is not dead, but we are being made to think there is something horrible about being small. I think maybe the awesome lady who commented about the birthday parties might have said that, too.
So, for all the little bloggers I found, I am going to do a little poll of my readers. You may actually know who Dooce is, but I want to know if you know who The Bloggess is. (This is not a diss on The Bloggess, who is eight kinds of cool mixed with mayo.) Please, leave a comment on this post and answer the following two questions:
1) Are you a part of the “blogging community”? (In other words, do you read lots of blogs or blog yourself? Or do you only read a couple of blogs?)
2) Had you ever heard of The Bloggess prior to reading this post?
Please, even if you don’t usually comment, do so this time. I really want to know. And I really want the small bloggers who feel like they are in the shadow of bigger bloggers to know, too.