Funny how I can attend a great event where people had good questions, where my co-panelist was excellent, where I sometimes had exactly the right words to say, and yet on the drive home the critic crawls out of the back of my brain to attempt to convince me that I did a horrible job and everyone else at the event was just humoring me. It is fortunate that I recognize this for a pattern and I am self aware enough to be able to combat it with specific instances that demonstrate at least rudimentary competence. What really makes the voice shut up is coming home. The kitchen was a mess of cold pizza and various other snacks mixed in with school papers, notebooks, writing implements, and toys. Gleek had a pile of new stuff to show me, because while I was off at the library talking about blogging, she went to the New Beginnings program which tells all the teenage girls what sort of fun things will be coming in the next year. Gleek is very excited that she will now be part of the youth program instead of the kids’ program. Patch wanted to show me the new game he found on the internet, something to do with plumbers. Link was happy to see me home and Kiki needed to bend my ear to tell me all about how Gleek interacted with the other teenage girls. Howard texted me to see how the event had gone. I called and we chatted for a few minutes before he went back to work. Even the cat had things to say to me. It all washed over me like a warm tide and that critical voice faded to a whisper.
I come away from the event impressed with the Orem Library and their staff. They put together excellent free events all the time and I was happy to get to participate in this one. The library has a brand new blog which keeps people informed of happenings at the library and its collections.
The difficulty in talking about blogging is that there are so many different ways to go about it and people have so many different goals that they hope to achieve from it. From the questions I could tell that we had people just aching for a way to tell their stories, others who wanted to approach blogging as a business, some whose first interest was in how to attract readers en masse, others who wanted technical guidance, and those who wanted to learn how to pour their hearts into words. We would answer questions and I could tell that the answer which was perfect for one person was not for another one. More than being “not useful” I know that at least some of the things I said were exactly opposite what some of those audience members need to do to achieve their goals. I tried to express that during the discussion. I hope it came across, because there is no wrong way to approach blogging so long as your means are suited to your goals.
C. Jane Kendrick was a wonderful co-panelist. She spoke from her experiences as a professional blogger with a readership far larger than mine. The thing that impressed me most about her is the way that she listens. She goes quiet in her whole body, completely attentive to the person before her. She listens, she thinks, then she changes. I counted three people in the audience I knew were there for me. The rest came for C. Jane, but like her, they were gracious and smart. They asked interesting questions. One of the things I love about giving presentations is that I learn things. I learn from my co-panelists and sometimes I learn from my own answers.
I wish I could give a coherent point-by-point summary of all that we discussed, but the question and answer format bounced the topic around so much that I can’t use flow to help me remember it.
The time went by quickly. We could have continued talking for another hour I think. In fact many of us did linger and talk for a while afterward. That is one of my favorite parts, when I get to talk one on one with a person who has a question. I can listen to them and see if I have something useful to say in return. Often it is the listening which matters more than anything I say. Most people have the answers they need already if they are free to talk until the answer tumbles out and surprises them. I love being present for that moment.
The library was closing as the last few of us wandered out to our cars. We picked our way carefully through the clumps of slush and snow. It made me even more grateful to those in the audience who’d traveled far distances to join in the discussion. Then came the voice of self doubt, then the tide of reassurance at home, and now my thoughts unspool through my fingers and into my blog as I unpack and store this experience. This is one of the purposes that blogging serves for me. Through the words I write, I sort my life experiences and try to make sense out of them. Sometimes I succeed, others not so much, but the practice makes my life better.