She was standing amidst a crush of people at the Ajax, Ontario Convention Centre on Saturday, February 12 at 10:30 a.m., following a keynote I had just given to 136 members of Writers’ Community of Durham Region at their monthly breakfast meeting.
She seemed small, diminished, fragile ~ like a little faded, once-beautiful, now-chipped fine china teacup.
I knew nothing about her. Had never met her.
Inspiration was not on the menu …
“Why?” I asked, dumbfounded, but with a few suspicions. Changing-lives was not my intent that day. Remotely. I hadn’t even attempted to be inspiring. I was just talking to writers about “blogging.”
“I can talk about it now,” the little teacup said, explaining what “it” was.
“I’m bipolar,” she finally said as she crumbled into my arms. I gave her a long warm hug.
It turns out that little teacup was not only a writer but, she had never before been able to talk openly, or perhaps even to herself, about her “diagnosis.”
Here was a perfect example of how Self-Definition is Self-Limitation. For years, it seems, “Little Teacup” had carried around her “secret” quietly, suffered with it silently, written about it no doubt, but was unable to “speak out loud” about it in an audible voice.
Now she felt liberated to talk, begin to come out, I hope, and write her heart out, I imagine, about her inner life. To break free.
Often, this happens after I give a talk.
People feel a sense of liberation…
I just wasn’t expecting it to happen after this talk.
My remarks were practical. My purpose was to present a diverse group of published and unpublished Canadian writers of every stripe with some pragmatic information on blogging.
The fact that the sum-total of my blogging experience is about three years and linked exclusively to my psychiatric life and recovery was incidental at this event, though it seeped into my remarks. Coming Out Crazy is not only my only blog, it’s my brand. That was one of my messages.
If you want to blog, about anything, brand yourself…
It helps to grab readers. You want to attract readers. That’s why you blog. Blogging is interactive so by nature you want to engage with your readers.
And on Saturday, blogging, was on the menu. Mental health was not ~ or so I thought.
Also, I was informed the week before, by one of the organizers in a cursory email, that “the best presentations have a message.”
That I had not expected. It had driven me crazy all week. Utterly insane. Plus, this same person had also informed me that I would be speaking to a very diverse group.
How can “one” message “speak” to such a diverse audience? The membership of the WCRD is well over 350. From all over North America. Next month, their breakfast speaker is going to be Charles Foran, who just this past Monday, won The Charles Taylor Prize along with $25,000 for his biography of Mordecai Richler, though on Saturday, he was one of five brilliant nominees. This is a most prestigious Canadian prize for non-fiction books. What luck for the WCDR. That meeting is going to be a hot-ticket item.
But I digress…
The point is, there is no “one message fits all” in blogging to a broad spectrum of people or even two people. The very definition of blogging is that you define your own blog. Your reach out to lots of people. A wide audience. Global, at best. Your personality defines your own blog. I’ve done a lot of thinking and research on blogging and I’m still a neophyte.
Last Friday night, the night before my speech, until 3 a.m. on Saturday morning, I agonized over “messages.” I was in unknown territory here. I don’t think “message.” Finally, I managed to cobble together a completely original and never-before-heard speech, with no less that 16 messages for this eclectic group to chomp-on along with their bacon and eggs. Hoping there would be something for almost everyone.
I was so exhausted, I couldn’t fall asleep…
Three hours later, I got out of bed and I knew I was running on pure nervous energy. I showered and dressed and travelled 30 minutes to this breakfast in a town east of Toronto. Marty drove whilst I nervously tried to navigate. Wouldn’t you know Google maps gave us the wrong directions, too?
To be honest, I have never been so frightened before a speech in my life (and I’ve given hundreds since 1998). I had never addressed a group of writers, poets, notetakers, publicists, novellists, published and unpublished.
What did I know, I was thinking. I’m a writer. Writers write. That’s it. Here, to this audience, I was a journalist who now blogs. Exclusively online. No more print. No more paper. Are the two synonymous? I like to link, but am I a success, as I was billed? How do you measure success as a blogger? By the money you make or the number of lives you touch. That cannot be measured and being both cockeyed-optimistic and idealistic, this is always a source of conflict for me.
Anyway, I think I was a hit…
Though, as usual, I never remember a thing I’ve said after the fact, which is why I always bring Marty. He can give me a recap.
My 16 messages hit home for a lot of people, a number of whom swarmed me after the meeting.
I met some fascinating writers.
Best of all, I sat with Ruth Zaryski Jackson. Have I told you about Ruth yet? Well, she was my babysitter when I was four-years-old and she was 11. She found me right here after more than 55 years. Ruth is a published poet and memoirist with her own blog all about writing memoirs, called Memoir Writers World. Though she has other blogs, too.
She was responsible for my speaking to the WCDR.
Anyway, you probably noticed that this is my first blog post in close to two weeks, since “my big blunder” ~ my misinterpreting the colloquial phrase “down with” while publicly embarrassing myself out loud, on the world wide web and in what was a civil way, questioning the authority of my sister blogger, quickly becoming my friend, the prolific, candid and intrepid Zoë Kessler of ADHD: From A to Zoe.
I think that’s behind me.
Because, here I am…
Hugs and speak soon, I trust. I hope this block is gone. I hated being blocked. Being away from you.
It’s 3:04 a.m. Not good for a girl to get so little sleep. Twice in one week.
Off to bed I go.
Cartoon Credit: I found it searching for a piece of piece of art, ironically on blog called The Next Web or TNW United States, part of the next web family. The post was penned by Jacob Friedman titled Blogging vs. Journalism: The Ongoing Debate. Apologies to one and all for not remembering this credit. At 3:04 a.m. this morning (it’s now 10:15 a.m.) I could barely remember how to find my way upstairs to my bed. With profound thanks. This site is a terrific resource for bloggers, would-be bloggers and tech writers. sln