Someone famously said there’s nothing to writing: just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
Less famously, I’d say there’s nothing to blogging, either: just stand up in front of an audience and strip– till you’re stark naked.
Which is kind of what it’s like to be one of the Voices of the Year—my peak experience at BlogHer (if you don’t count the free Dove Bars).
Speaking in public brings up another one of those well-known lines—if you feel nervous, just imagine your audience naked. Which makes the public strip far easier at BlogHer– with an audience made up of experienced strippers.
For the handful of bloggers chosen to read, this is your 4 minutes of fame—at least, 4 minutes is the time allocated to read your post. Instructions I took literally after working in television news. Taking more liberal literary license was just one of the differences between me and the other women (I’m fifth from the right) sharing the stage. (How did I get so short? And did I mention I’m practically old enough to have given birth to any of them–or all of them?)
Just before the event started, we gathered in a small room nearby. I didn’t know anyone; hadn’t read their posts; all I knew ahead of time was that they are talented writers. I didn’t realize we would spawn our own support group on the spot, and that such memorable moments would take place off the stage, not just on it. I also didn’t expect the impact and inspiration I felt backstage as each of our little band of bloggers “stripped” in public. (Highly recommended reading; you can read all the posts here.)
From the ridiculous to the sublime barely covers it. They ranged from a hilarious phone encounter with AT & T —to the stuff people save from a fire— to marking 15 years of sobriety after addictions to heroin and cocaine —to the almost un-hearable unbearable pain of mothers suffering the loss or disabilities of their children— to the woman just before me who read a poignant story of why it’s important for every woman to own a pair of red underwear. (How have I survived all these years without them?)
I hadn’t heard any of this yet, as we were led from the “green room” into the ballroom to settle backstage before we would take our turns reading.
Mostly everyone was nervous. Really nervous.
Not me; not after a career as a TV newscaster. But even though public speaking is well within my comfort zone, I wasn’t feeling comfortable.
Something tugged at me. Something wasn’t right. And as we waited backstage, moments before the event I suddenly realized what it was.
So I got up and left the group shortly before we were announced. Back outside in the hallway, I headed straight for the restroom.
It was less a physical issue; more a personal political statement. And in the ladies’ room, I took off the Spanx—(I’m not THAT brave; I put on underwear I brought in my purse. )
Somehow it seemed important; a symbolic act. And maybe it was.
Blogging is all about being authentic; being yourself. Letting it all hang loose.
So this little episode held lessons for any blogger—Get rid of what’s holding you back or holding you in.
It felt right. And I was completely in my comfort zone when I stood on the stage and stripped.
Not that anyone would have noticed I was sans- Spanx —a delicious irony since I was reading a post about how women become invisible as we get older.
Next time I speak in public I’ll go one better. I’ll be wearing red underwear.
Here’s a link to all the posts as they were read; I’ll share video as soon as it’s posted.