That's what I was thinking.
I'm gonna be upfront about this: I'm not a big BlogHer gal. Don't get me wrong: I don't dislike it. It's more a case of me not GETTING it.
When I first started this blog, three years ago (yep..run the numbers, folks. I get about 30 new readers a year. Jealous, Dooce?), I went over to BlogHer to see what it was all about. All I knew was that BlogHer was THE place to go and hang out and promote yourself and network.
Two key words there? PROMOTE and NETWORK. Neither of which is something I do well.
I write my stories here because if I didn't, my head would explode or else I'd be a huge bitch in real life (yeah yeah, I'm Polly-freaking-Anna, right? Shuddup.). I write about divorce and betrayal and being poor and raising teens and sometimes I write about vaginas and tampons.
So when I packed up my bloggy diaper bag and ventured into the BlogHer playground, I was overwhelmed. It was a lot like going to your inaugural Mommy and Me class with your firstborn in tow. Everyone else seemed to know what they were doing. Everyone else had already made friends. Everyone else had experience and connections and yes I'll let my hopelessly insecure 14 year old speak: it felt kind of cliquey.
The cliquey part of it was most likely stemming from my harrowing lack of self confidence, paired with feelings of never quite being "good enough" that have hounded me my whole life. I don't like cliques, even imaginary ones I've made up in my head. I've never been part of one (that I know of...mayhap there is a clique made up of women who have to lift up body parts to get clean in the shower..if there is, ladies? I don't want to know).
But it seemed to me that everyone knew everybody. There were groups and women with clever blog names and funny posts. Lots of them seemed to be BFFs and for a newcomer like me (read that as: a newcomer with some issues) it was daunting. I took my diaper bag and left.
Only recently have I ventured back there. Partly because some of the writers I was lucky to meet through Listen to Your Mother post on BlogHer and I like to read what they write, partly because I find myself armed with more self confidence than before, and therefore, a new-found desire to PROMOTE and NETWORK.
One of my LTYM friends posted something about "submissions" and "voices of the year" on Twitter a while back. I had to click "can't remember your login name?" on BlogHer but I got on there and decided What the Heck. And I submitted a couple of my posts.
Cut to a couple days ago. I received a facebook message from one of my aforementioned new friends, Nina Badzin (I love this woman. Read her stuff, okay?). She sent me a note that said "Congratulations on your BlogHer VOTY!". Bear in mind that this was at 4:00 a.m. and I had spent the evening with my BFF. Her husband was out of town and we were sampling a new Absolut vodka flavor, "Cilantro with Lime" (meh. Kind of grassy.). So when I read Nina's message, and the couple of congratulatory Tweets I'd gotten from other dear women, I was like, "Huh?". Truly. I had no idea what they were talking about.
I checked my email, and there it was. A message from BlogHer, congratulating me and telling me that out of over 2,600 submissions, my musings on all things vagina was chosen as one of their Voices of The Year in the Humor category.
And still, I was like, "Wow. That's pretty cool." I read further into the email and it started dawning on me: this BlogHer thing was kind of a big deal. No, not my being chosen, but the actual CONFERENCE and the Voices of The Year and all that stuff. Like, a super big deal.
As I read more during the day (the blog posts and the comments and the tweets, oh my) I began to realize that yes, it was indeed a big deal to be chosen. There were a lot of big feelings out there on the interwebz. People were so excited to be part of this, present company included. People were sad to have not been chosen. There was genuine mourning and a little bit of snark. I'm still reading blog posts about it, and the semi-enormity of this thing is becoming very real to me.
I read one very nice, very introspective piece by a woman who had wanted to make it, and hadn't. She mentioned, at one point, something about MY category, Humor. She said that after perusing the titles in the Humor section she decided to avoid it because "certain body parts don't need to be discussed." If you take a gander at the titles in Humor, you will see there are just two titles that contain body parts: Mine, which you know by now is my homage to lady gardens, "A Post About Tampons, Vaginas and Episiotomies" (by the way, spellcheck doesn't approve of the pluralization of "vaginas". Is that wrong? Should it be 'vaginae'? OMG. It is. Ooops..where was I?)...oh yeah. So it was my post and another one by my new blogger BFF, Darcy Perdu.
I read that, and I felt a little offended. There, I said it. My panties were somewhat wadded up about this comment. There was some more talk about potty mouths and swears and stuff like that. And I took mild offense. I mean, really, the worst I say is vagina. I don't drop the F-bomb, hardly ever, I usually spell it out. Like, mother-effer. I'M NOT A POTTY MOUTH, I SWEAR! Wait, that came out wrong. But I digress. The adult Jenny prevailed, and I wrote a comment to her, praising her decision to make this a learning experience. There's no ill will. We're all just clickety-clacking out our feelings and hoping they stick, somewhere, to something.
I get what it feels like to not "make" something. My senior year of high school, I didn't make cheerleading. After two years of being on the squad, a couple of the mean, older girls decided they didn't like me and they rejected me. That hurt. When my husband rejected me as a wife, that stung, too. And the crickets I'm hearing from the literary agents to whom I've submitted my book idea, they aren't pleasant. Just a day or two before all the BlogHer hoopla, I received a short and sweet "NOPE" letter from Brain, Child magazine, in regards to an essay I submitted to them (oh did my inner juvenile have a field day with that one..in my head I composed a bitchy reply, 'Sorry I'm not intellectual enough for you, homies. Next time I submit I'll wear my Tina Fey glasses and have a cup of organic green tea cupped in my gluten-free hands'). See, I know what it feels like. It sucks. It HURTS. I'm the last person on this blessed planet to diss anyone's reaction to their feelings. I'm a lover, not a fighter.
There have been many beautiful posts written about Voices of the Year, and rejection, and how we handle ourselves when faced with the fact that something we created, something we loved writing, something that is kind of like part of US, is turned down. My friend Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary wrote a great post about it. Ann Imig, who is speaking at BlogHer this year, wrote another lovely post about it.
So that's what I'm thinking #VOTY is. It's a chance for each and every one of us bloggers, whether we have big huge popular blogs or humble little blogs, to feel PROUD of ourselves for everything we have accomplished. Do you know how big and brassy your cajones have to be in order to hit "publish" on one of these things? HUGE AND SUPER BRASSY. It takes guts to offer up a piece you've written and say, "Here. Hope you like it."
And now you'll have to excuse me. I'm going to go back and play Tetris with my checking account. I want to go to BlogHer in Chicago so badly...I want to be able to say "Thank You" in person to the folks who had the impossible task of reading over 2,000 submissions and making the heartbreaking choices they had to make. I want to hear the awesome speakers speak, I want to go play with other bloggers. I want to rub shoulders with people who live in this goofy world we call the Blogosphere. In a way, that's what's giving ME my biggest feelings about all of this. I have been given this honor, and because of financial limitations I'm most likely going to have to give my thanks from afar. So if any of you have a connection with the Chicago Sheraton, let them know that there is an extremely grateful-but-poor woman in Minneapolis who would do just about anything for a discount. Almost anything.
Okay, let's be honest. ANYTHING.
Congrats to those who were chosen to read, and my fellow honorees in all of the categories. And a special congratulations to every single person who took the very brave step of submitting their work. It's truly an honor to be in your company.