Motherhood & Words

I mentioned in my last post that I spent Saturday at the MN Blogger Conference, and I need to do a recap of the day here because it was such an amazing event. The space—CoCo MSP—was lovely and intimate (which was perfect for the conference, though I know many people who wanted to be there couldn’t because attendance was capped at 150.)

I took away something from each of the sessions, but one of the highlights of the conference for me was the opening keynote, in which a panel of Minnesota’s pioneering bloggersNancy Lyons, James Lieks, Teresa Boardman and Patrick Rhone—talked about how they got started and why blogging is an important part of their lives. Many of them have been blogging since before “blogging” was a term. Nancy mentioned that she loves the humanity of blogs, how they “connect us to one another.” Patrick mentioned how writing a blog can help you develop your unique writer’s voice. He also said that he prefers be called an “online writer” rather than a blogger because the term blogger “reduces the respect and credibility of those who write and publish online.” I couldn’t agree more.

My break-out session was “Growing as Writers: Taking Your Blog Posts to the Next Level,” which was basically a mini crash course in creative nonfiction. Echoing what Patrick Rhone said, I talked about how important it is to think about blogging as writing.

**I have to interrupt myself here and admit that I’m a Neanderthal. During my session, people were snapping photos and typing away, and I kept thinking, Are they bored? Are they texting their friends? What’s going on here? It was only after the session that I realized they were tweeting. I was probably one of three people at the conference who isn’t on twitter. (Thank you, Monika, for your patience and graciousness in showing me how it works!)

I was also one of the only people there who was taking notes throughout the day using an actual pen and paper. (At one point I pulled out my phone to check the time, and I was thoroughly embarrassed to be holding such an antiquated piece of equipment in my hands. It takes me about forty minutes to send one text message.) Note to self: Get up to speed.**

So I learned a ton about the business of blogging. (Though I wish I had been able to attend the sessions on analytics and SEO—I’ve no idea what SEO even is.)

But the biggest message I left the conference with was the way blogging can effect incredible change in people’s lives.

Heather of The Extraordinary Ordinary was amazing as she talked about finding one’s authentic blogging voice. You must read her story if you don’t already follow her. And her blog even looks great. What a lovely banner. (Note to self: Get up to speed.)

And of course, the final keynote of the day was delivered by Matt Logelin, who started to blog when his wife, Liz, was on bed rest awaiting the birth of their daughter. I’m sure many of you have been dedicated readers of Matt’s blog, where he’s written about his grief in the wake of Liz’s death, the day after their daughter, Maddy, was born, and where he continues to write about raising Maddy as a single dad. Even if you don’t read his blog, you’ll be moved to tears by his keynote, which is funny, heartbreaking, and down-to-earth. (And he swears a lot, which I love.) You can listen to it and a few other sessions from the conference at The Uptake.

You can also meet Matt this weekend if you’re in the Twin Cities. He’s doing fundraising for The Liz Logelin Foundation, which provides financial and material assistance to grief-stricken young families. A Celebration of Hope will take place Friday night, September 17th at 6:30 pm at Solera in Minneapolis. And walk run hope, the foundation 5K, will take place on Saturday the 18th at 6 pm at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis. You can register the day of the event, so don’t worry if you haven’t signed up yet.

Thanks so much to Missy, Arik, Suzi, Katie, and Lindsey for making this such an incredible day. Now I better get my a** over to twitter and Get Up To Speed.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Kevin Fenton on September 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    When I spoke with Trish Hampl about the possibility of blogging, she said, "They're really just short essays, right?" I said "yes." What she meant was: I can't do this casually, can I? And that realization is important to me. I know for some bloggers blogging sometimes takes on the casualness of conversation, and I love some of them, but for me it's writing. And I think i edit myself MORE because I know I won't have an editor.

  2. Heather of the EO on September 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    It was truly lovely to meet you and to encourage you to get on the Twitter 🙂

    I was NOT bored in your session, but I was snapping photos. This whole online thing can be so…scattered. Sometimes I think it would be best if we DID all just sit there with pen and paper.

    I plan to look up your classes, lady. I respect you mucho-ly. Heh.

  3. cynthia newberry martin on September 15, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Kate, a friend recommended this post on FB and here I am : ) I absolutely agree with Patrick that writing online helped me to discover my voice as well as confidence in my writing. I also agree with Nancy about the humanity that oozes out of so many blogs. Each of these results was surprising and pleasing as the posts accumulated. Sounds like a fun and helpful event. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Cecilia on September 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks so much for writing/saying this, Kate. I've definitely used blogging as a way to begin writing, and it has helped me become aware of so many issues…things I have needed to know and pay attention to and process. In terms of writing, blogging *is* writing; it just appears on a computer rather than in a handheld journal or book.

    I haven't read Matt's blog but I will now that you have referenced it. I've recently found another poignant blog, written by the widow of an up and coming cellist…she is 34 and has a young daughter. She's raw, honest and eloquent:

  5. kristenspina on September 15, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I absolutely love this post. All of it. Thank you!! And to your point, I honestly don't think I could have written my novel without my blog. The blog gave me a place to try things on, to find my voice, to see what people wanted to read about.

  6. darcie on September 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    So great to finally meet you in person! I KNEW I knew of you but could not place you – until we chatted about cribsheet. I have loved you forever!

  7. Laura G. O'Brien on September 16, 2010 at 12:41 am

    It's so encouraging hearing that blogging is "real" writing. It certainly feels real when it can be so hard to put one word after another, when I am giving up time I could be sleeping for blogging, for writing.

    Among my circle, blogging doesn't yet seem mainstream. People are reading but not fully understanding what I am trying to do. Maybe that's because I am still figuring out what I am trying to do:) Thanks for passing on some meat from the conference.

  8. kate hopper on September 16, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Kevin, I totally agree. (And of course I love hearing from you here!)

    Thanks, Heather! So great to meet you. I have lots of reading to do over at the EO. I can't wait.

    Cynthia, thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to checking out your writing.

    Cecilia and Laura, of course your writing is real and stunning. I love your blogs.

    Darcie, so wonderful to connect with you. I am so excited to get to know you better. (And you are such a dear! Thank you for your kind words!)

    Kristen, thank you. I love your blog, as you know, and I love hearing that you couldn't have written your novel without it! I can't wait to hold that book in my hands!

  9. Pia on September 16, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Great post, and a topic I am starting to realize. When I started my blog it was just a journal, a way to keep people up to date on what was going on with J-man. Then it became a place to process… to vent… thoughts and frustrations. Now, it is that but so much more. I am working toward a 'voice', trying on different ways to convey an idea or tell a story. I recently had one piece go "viral" and have gotten tons of feedback from parents, etc, and I now see how much more a blog can be. So the blog becomes a mode or place for me to evolve as a writer.

  10. kate hopper on September 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Pia, I love the way you describe a blog as a place for you to evolve as a writer. I think that's exactly right.

  11. Andrea on September 17, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Sounds like a great conference! Wish we had something like this in Maine (btw, I'm a Neanderthal too…I don't tweet and I only use my cell phone as an alarm clock and timer!)

  12. Mary on September 17, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    So grateful for this post — even the title was hopeful to me!! — and all the links. I'm checking out the these amazing blogs and trying to listen to talks, but my computer is not cooperating fully. So I'm thinking (again) that I really should just move to Minnesota.

  13. jen on September 29, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    it was lovely to meet you … i still have yet to write about it. 'cause i feel so undecided about everything. on one hand i loved it. on another hand … it was maybe more than i needed. does that make sense?
    my blog is me. and i'm not sure that i need/want it to be more.
    and i'm kind of ok with that.
    is that weird?
    and why am i asking you so many questions?