laptop camera notebook

6 Quick Tips for Starting Your Blog

The great thing about blogging is that it is so easy to get started, and depending on how you go about it, doesn’t cost a penny. Over the last few weeks I’ve been asked by several people for advice on where to start. I’ve had a think about what advice was (or would have been) most useful to me when I first began and put together the following list. Hopefully it’s helpful!

 

1) Choose a topic

This seems really obvious, but or me this was a really hard to narrow down especially as I consider my blog to be a hobby at this stage. I’ve settled on talking about social media and society, as that’s what I keep coming back to and seems to be a steady interest in my life, but sometimes I veer away from that completely and want to write about things that are going on in my life.

If you are starting a blog for a specific purpose, especially if it’s for a business, I’d suggest sticking to your topic or area of interest so as not to confuse readers.

 

2) Name it

Rating: VERY DIFFICULT.

I took forever to come up with mine, and to be honest I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the name, but it got to the point where I was stalling so I had to run with something. This can be a super frustrating process as its hard to think of something good that hasn’t already been taken. You can check here.

There seems to be a trend emerging where people are using their real names as their url, so that might be worth thinking about if you’re comfortable with the idea. It also might be worth considering purchasing the url of your name anyway, especially if it’s not unique, in case you want to use it some day.

Once you’ve managed to choose one that’s free (and well done if you manage to do so without crying tears of deep frustration), go out and secure the handle on all the social medial platforms you can think of – even if you aren’t planning to use them straight away, or even at all. The idea is to secure everything just in case someone else gets in first, and that way you have more control of your brand. Start with these (I’ve linked to mine so you can have a look… and maybe follow me and stuff).

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram

 

3) Choose a platform

Platforms are a rather personal choice.

I shifted to WordPress after I met bloggers who are more advanced than I was and they told me to. It is less user friendly than other platforms out there – Blogger and Weebly are free and quite simple to use – but if there’s any possibility that you may one day like to take your blog to the next level or have more control over it then WordPress is the way to go.

There are also other options such as Tumblr, but have zero idea how to use that. The comments confuse the bejezus out of me.

I’ve recently made the shift from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, which means that I’m now in more complex territory (for me) as I’ve had to figure out hosting for myself and it’s not as easy to customise (I had help, thanks Dan!).  I went this way because I was finding that there were things I wanted to do with my blog that I couldn’t do in the free site (e.g. set up Google Analytics properly). This also cost a little bit of money to do, although it’s like $30 a year for hosting so it’s hardly going to break the bank. I’m really enjoying the challenge, and I’m learning heaps – but it can be a bit frustrating as it takes me a very long time to make even the most basic of changes. This article explains the differences in more detail.

If you’re just starting out and you only want something simple I’d recommend going with WordPress.com as you can tinker around a bit, but get going almost immediately – and it’s easier to upgrade in the future.

 

4) Choose a theme

My posts are very text based and the images don’t tend to be the main focus, so I’ve gone with a more traditional blogging layout. However, if you’re creating a space where pictures are integral to the story, then perhaps a magazine layout would be a better option. Lifestyle blogs are really well suited to this layout – a great example is Pretty Mayhem, who featured me the other day!

There are so many themes to choose from, but it’s important to make sure you get a responsive one one so that it will look good on different sized screens, including phones and tablets.

I bought mine from ThemeForest and Dan helped me customise the colours and some other fidgety backend bits and bobs. WordPress also offer free themes, but in my experience they are a bit more limited. It all depends if you want to spend money or not.

 

5) Find a crew

Blogging is really fun, and even though I don’t post as much as I probably should be, I really enjoy it. I also spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m doing and talking to other people about theirs (there’s a distinct possibility that this is the actual fun bit for me). Last year I attended The Blogcademy, which was a little on the pricey side, but the content was awesome and I’ve met some truly wonderful people through it who provide great support and friendship. I totally recommend it if you’re thinking of taking your blog to the next level, or even if you’re just a bit of a Kat/Gala/Shauna fangirl like myself.

 

6) Start writing!

Actually writing something and then pressing publish is seriously one of the biggest hurdles, and it can be easy to get stuck worrying about making it perfect, and not actually doing anything (Georgie wrote an awesome post about this the other day). I can certainly be guilty of that myself, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t post as often as I probably should. Having said that, there are loads of tweaks and changes I want to make to the look and feel of the space, but I’m working on changing those slowly over time rather than letting it hold me up.

So do as I say, not as I do, and post regularly (and probably with reasonable frequency) to allow your audience to build. Don’t forget to share on social media!

 

Have fun!

I love having a space on the internet that’s all my own, and I love tinkering around and figuring out how it all works. It may not be the fanciest or most well read blog in the world, but having that outlet has done wonders for me.

There’s a whole bunch more I could write here, but I reckon the main thing is to just get out there and do it!

If you have any questions, suggestions or you want to share your blog idea please let me know in the comments or flick me a message :)

Hollie xx

Tinder

Today I want to talk about Tinder.

I first heard about Tinder about six months ago, and I’ve been completely amazed at how massive it’s become. If you are Gen-Y and single, it’s almost expected that you’ve given Tinder a go.

For those of you who haven’t tried it, the premise is pretty simple. You link it up with your Facebook profile (it doesn’t post on there or anything, but it does tell you if you have any mutual friends with the person you’re viewing) and you choose some of your pictures for people to look at. You select whether you want to see men or women (perhaps not so great if you’re bi/trans? Would love to hear thoughts on this), what distance away you’re willing to go, and what age range you’re interested in. Then you start swiping!

Basically you decide on the look of a person whether or not you’d be potentially keen. If you say yes, and they also swipe yes, then you are able to chat. Easy peasy.

This mutual display of initial interest is a key point of difference to other sites I’ve used, and at the risk of sounding shallow, I like that it narrows the risk of creepy messages from people you really aren’t interested in. The downside, of course, is that you are judging people on what they look like – although I would argue that you actually get quite a bit of information about people from the types of images they have selected. I have also learned that many men really don’t like wearing shirts, especially when in the bathroom in front of a mirror. Or at the gym. Again, shirtless. If you like pictures of shirtless guys at the gym, then Tinder is for you.

Here is Bieber at the gym, just in case you weren’t sure what I meant:

 

Justin Gym

 

When I first tried online dating a couple of years ago, I certainly felt that it had a a stigma attached. I hid it from my friends and only told select people who I could trust. Then when I did start telling people I found out half of them were also hitting the internet for dates and not telling people. Ridiculous. The rest enjoyed my stories. And oh how there have been stories. Which I am not going to post on the Internet, #sorrynotsorry.

While online dating has over time become increasingly destigmatised, I really think that the popularity of Tinder has pushed the possibility of meeting someone online into the mainstream. I attribute the stigma to the idea that online interactions are somehow less ‘real’ than offline interactions. Because, if this is the case, then how can you possibly meet someone on the internet who is going to become any kind of meaningful part of your life? If you believe online interactions to be lesser than offline, then the experience is cheapened.

Of course, this doesn’t seem to be such an issue with other forms of meeting online. I’ve found most of my flatmates using Gumtree and Trademe. It’s interesting that it would be seen as weird if I were to walk into a place like a bar and try and find myself someone to share a house with, but the opposite is true as soon as romance comes into it.

This is because our ideas of what constitutes ‘real’ romance are very strongly held. As much as we may say life isn’t like the movies, ultimately those notions have crept their way into our collective subconscious. Friends have said to me that one of their concerns about it is that if they do meet someone and it becomes serious, then they won’t have a particularly romantic ‘how we met’ story to tell.

I don’t think is this is necessarily true, though. Or even that important, really. I mean, I guess it would be sweet to lock eyes with someone on the bus one day, or basically have the events of The Notebook become reality (although I’m hardly going to say no if I meet a real life Noah), but even if you do, that doesn’t necessarily mean things will work out. Plus, I think that it doesn’t really matter how you meet – if it works out it’s a successful love story no matter what! Every how-you-met story is a love story, baby just say yes.

Of course, there’s a downside. For me it’s dating fatigue (obviously not an issue if you meet the love of your life, of course!). My first Tinder attempt only lasted about 12 hours.  Which doesn’t sound that long, except that I signed up on a Saturday morning when I had some time to spare, and was on it for six hours straight – I kid you not, I got joint pain. All that swiping is seriously addictive. It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t enjoying it – but that I realised I wasn’t in the right space to actually meet anyone.

The thing with online dating, and this is something I’ve discussed extensively with friends who have tried it, is that you really do have to be in the right frame of mind. If you are it can be super fun contacting people and going out on dates, but I don’t think it’s something you can do for a long period of time without becoming seriously jaded. When I’ve signed up in the past I’ve tended to hit it quite hard, go out on heaps of dates, and become a bit weary of it all within a few weeks.

That’s not to say I haven’t had some amazing experiences, romances, and have made some wonderful friends, but constantly putting yourself out there can be exhausting and a bit of a downer. I’ve found that lately it just serves to make me feel worse about myself, and extremely cynical when it comes to meeting someone.

Not good.

So, at the moment I’m having a bit of a romance rest. It’s probable that I’ll go back online again sometime in the future, but for now I’m focusing more on getting other aspects of my life into gear. Exercise! Saving money! Brunch! Watching My Kitchen Rules! Blogging!

Watch out world xx

instagram-etiquette

Ermahgerd #Instagram

I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve started to really get into Instagram. You’ve probably heard of it – it’s an app people use to post pictures of their life, usually after giving it a bit of a once-over with a sweet filter. Sometimes people post pictures of their food. I might be one of those people.

Here’s a before shot I uploaded earlier of some soup I ate for dinner tonight (so glam):

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Anyway, I really like Instagram. It’s fun, and generally speaking not terribly heavy. I like looking at the pictures my friends post and getting an idea of what they’ve been up to, even it if it is heavily edited and made to look like they’re having the best time ever. Above photo aside, I too am guilty of this.

As people live more of their lives online, methods to present ourselves in a positive light become increasingly sophisticated and often only the best of the best is shown. Many have argued that this is not necessarily a positive thing as it can trigger insecurities and give the idea that other people’s lives are picture perfect, whereas yours is mundane and full of frozen soup shaped like a square.

Bloggers are particularly guilty of cultivating immaculate online images, showcasing perfect seeming lives and giving advice on how you can become more like them.

Great examples of this (for me) include Skunkboy Creatures (currently copying her hair colour at least) and the ever amazing A Beautiful Mess. So much cute and amazing and I want to be them.

Of course, what you see on your computer screens is a carefully curated set of images created by people who know what their audience is interested in seeing. While I’m not doubting that their lives probably are pretty awesome, otherwise none of these photos would come about, these bloggers work incredibly hard behind the scenes to make sure these pictures happen.

For me personally it is important to keep this in mind, as I have a tendency to be a bit of a perfectionist and want my life to be as ideal as possible. I like to imagine that they too sit in front of their computer in their pj’s late at night tapping away on their laptops.

Processed with MaxIm DL

Why ‘IRL’ is a Meaningless Term

I’m picking a fight with the phrase ‘in real life’ or ‘IRL’. It makes the internet sound like some other dimension, a virtual world that is outside of time and space, and, as the term suggests, not actually real. To be fair, there’s some super weird stuff going on , but most of the time we are still interacting with real people in the real world – just through a new means of communication. I touched on this in my post about Facebook – there is a clear distinction made in the way people talk about online and offline worlds and the level of importance that they place on each. Online communication, and any connections solely developed online, are not deemed as legitimate as face-to-face connections. As a child of the digital revolution, technology has played a major role in many of my friendships. As a teenager I spent a stupid amount of time on MSN chatting away and blocking the phone line (oh dialup, how I don’t miss you). At the time I was mostly keeping in touch with friends from school (or boys from other schools, to be more accurate), but since then sites such as Facebook and Skype have become increasingly important for maintaining connections.

Cats in space are my new favourite thing.

Cats in space are my new favourite thing. I like to think this is what non-real internet friendships look like.

Probably my best personal example of how social media has allowed me to maintain, and possibly even enhance, a friendship would be the bond between my friend Ele and I. We met in the first couple of weeks of uni and lived together as flatmates during our final year of our bachelor’s degrees. We went through assignment related ups and downs together, I ate her baking (procrastibakers are the best to live with), and we spent hours gossiping in one another’s rooms. However, since that time we have lived in separate cities and more recently, countries, and yet we still keep track of one another’s lives.

We don’t get to see each other in person that often, and  as a result of that our friendship is conducted predominantly online, but we’re definitely still close. We mostly communicate via email – at the very least once a week, we both write a lot so I think email works best for us – but use Voxer, Skype, and Viber as well. I’m chatting with her on Facebook as I write this. She’d easily know more about the ins and outs of my life than some of the people I spend the most time with.  There’s nothing particularly new about any of this, friendships have existed in ‘virtual’ spaces long before the Internet or even the telephone were ever imagined – people have communicated through letters for millennia. In the time before the internet, Ele and I would have been great penpals. To me the ability to maintain relationships with family and friends is incredibly important to my wellbeing – I love that last weekend my grandmother Skyped me because she saw me online (I was half asleep and hungover at the time, but never mind!). So why then do we privilege offline friendships above online ones? What does it mean to want to move away social networking to spend more time with your ‘real’ friends? It seems to me that this is a pointless distinction, and is why I find it hard to understand in many ways when people want to step away from online communication, and in particular social media, to strengthen friendships. Isn’t that a little counterproductive?

I have zero idea how to credit this.

I have zero idea how to credit this.

To Facebook or not to Facebook

Photo by Aleks Dorohovich (unsplash.com)

Photo by Aleks Dorohovich (unsplash.com)

Since its inception in 2004, Facebook has revolutionised not only how we use the internet but how we interact with one another. Given its reach into the everyday lives of millions around the world, it is unsurprising that people have strong feelings about its utilisation and ways in which they can exert some control over how it works for them.

Facebook has been part of my life since the olden days when you could only get on it if you belonged to a university (circa 2006). For me its importance is amplified by the fact that I no longer live near many of my friends and family as it allows me to keep in touch with them and remain an active part of their lives. (Plus, I actually like baby photos – even though sometimes I suspect I’m the only one). I’ve also been pleasantly surprised over the years as to who I’ve kept in touch with, and it’s allowed me to develop previously weak connections into much stronger ones.

My friend Miriam, who is German, echoed my sentiments in an email responding to a post I’d made on The Teacup Muse Facebook page. She explained that while Facebook is less popular in Germany, she uses it to keep in touch with friends met while living overseas in New Zealand and Canada:

I have many, many German friends who are not on Facebook, mainly because they don’t like Facebook’s privacy policy, but some also because they don’t like the whole concept and find it an impersonal way of communicating. [...] I myself do use Facebook because I think it’s a great way of keeping in touch, especially with people living on other continents. I get to feel like I know what’s going on in their lives, and I definitely don’t have time to email all of these people in order to replace that ‘information flow’.”

Having moved around a fair bit myself, and being a social person, I have to say Miriam’s take resonates with my own reasons for sticking with the site. It is really quite handy being able to track what’s happening in people’s lives without needing to contact each person on an individual basis.

I’ve got the impression , however, that an increasing number of people are beginning to feel that their lives have become overrun by social media, and that they are taking a step back to escape the noise.

Photo by  Alejandro Escamilla (alejandroescamilla.com)

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla (alejandroescamilla.com)

A couple of weeks ago, another good friend of mine (who also lives overseas from me) deleted her Facebook profile, arguing that she’d rather connect with friends and family via email, phone, or face to face. She let people know of her plans via a Facebook message and provided them with contact details if they wished to get in touch with her via alternative means. When I asked her (via email) how she was finding life without it, she told me that she was pleasantly surprised by the number of emails she received in response! For her the experience has been wholly positive so far. She’s found she’s spending less time online and more time focusing on other interests:

Facebook was making me lazy about staying in touch with people. I was connecting a lot with people who were on Facebook but not so much with those who did not use it. I realised it had been so long since I’d seen some friends and sat down to write a decent email to my friends as individuals. I wanted to get back to that. Since deleting my account I’ve had much more meaningful contact with friends. Although Facebook has it’s benefits, I don’t intend to start using it again in the near future – I’m definitely happier and more productive without it.

A Huffington Post author has similar views, described in a recent article:

Facebook [...] makes us lazy — not only in the typical sense of those who lament our increasing inability to write complex sentences and focus on longer selections of text — but rather in how we conduct ourselves in relationships. It circumscribes our own efforts, encouraging a passive, superficial knowledge of other human beings, at the same time insisting that they’re not worthwhile enough to know more about.

I find this perspective really fascinating, as I honestly believe my Facebook activity enhances, rather than detracts from, my existing friendships. I understand Facebook as a tool, and just one of many, that I can use to support and even strengthen connections.

This leads me to the question – is connecting with someone online (even if you know them in an offline context) somehow less real or authentic?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below, on Facebook (if you have it), or email me at theteacupmuse@gmail.com

Hollie xx

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I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

A couple of weekends ago I flew up to Brisbane to visit the lovely and super generous Kim Spikybombshell.

We’re both bloggers and fans of Gala Darling – so when The Blogcademy was announced I thought it would be an awesome thing to do together. I’m so glad we did as I’ve come away from the experience feeling the most positive and motivated I have in a very long time. The factors behind the motivation aren’t just the course content (which was excellent) but the people I’ve met because of it (awww). Obviously it’s always nice to make friends – I love meeting new people! – but there’s something extra special about meeting people who have a shared interest. Suddenly they’re not just new friends, but people you can turn to for support, advice, inspiration, and to buy cool stuff from.

This seems to be a common sentiment amongst attendees – and even Gala herself said that:

Sitting cross-legged on the floor during lunch yesterday, surrounded by sweet, excitable, positive babes, it couldn’t have been more clear to me that I have found my people.

When I was growing up in New Zealand, I always felt like such a freak, like I would never really meet anyone who truly got me. Thankfully the internet has proven me wrong. The world is absolutely full of people just like you, who love what you love. And, as Brittany said to me yesterday, when you put yourself out there, and when you are unabashedly yourself, you begin to attract those people to you.

Even though I didn’t experience the same level of feeling like a freak, I think this is the first time I’ve met a group of people who just kind of get it. It’s a bit hard to explain, but its a great feeling! (As a side-note, I met Brittany a few weeks ago, and she is SUCH a Gala fangirl so I can’t begin to imagine how stoked she must be to have been featured on her site!!!).

I’m really  looking forward to keeping in touch with the awesome women I met in Brisbane, and catching up with the Melbourne group of Blogcadettes so that I can keep my motivation levels up, focus, and talk shop with some wine, cheese, and of course – cupcakes.

Hollie xx

Blogcademy - Black and White

The Blogcademy Brisbane!

Last weekend I attended The Blogcademy Brisbane and it was THE BEST. I came away feeling mega motivated, focused, and with a whole bunch of achievable goals and ideas to action. I took so many notes that my hand still hurts after a week!

Blogcademy - Gala and Kim

It was awesome to to meet Headmistresses Shauna, Gala and Kat in person after following them online for so long (I came across Gala’s blog about three years ago now when a friend mentioned it to me). I found the content of the course invaluable – behind all the sparkly ears and fabulous taste in footwear, these are savvy businesswomen, and I’m so glad that they’ve decided to join forces and share their knowledge and experiences in a format that is equal parts inspirational and empowering.

Blogcademy - Headmistresses

Blogcademy - Gala

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I love that blogging has given many women a way to follow their dreams and make things happen for them that is outside of the traditional workforce. I was really impressed by the diversity of the projects attendees were embarking on, many were using blogs to build and support existing businesses, while others wanted to use it to make their mark on the world. The headmistresses themselves are great examples of this diversity: Gala writes about ‘radical self-love’ and sells advertising and web-based products, Kat has this kick-ass alternative wedding blog and the truly excellent Green Room where she talks about business, and Shauna uses hers to promote her graphic design work.

Blogcademy - back of head

What I’ve also loved is that the course is designed in such a way that a strong sense of community is fostered between the attendees, through a forum that you gain access to on enrolment. Through the forum people are able to connect with one another before and after the course – this has been invaluable for me as I live in Melbourne and have been able to meet up with bloggers who live locally as well as those I met in Brisbane.

The Blogcademy course may be over, but I’m really looking forward to what the future of blogging (and my wee space in it) will bring.

Photos by Janneke Storm (www.jannekestorm.com), second photo by theteacupmuse. 

The Business of Blogging

Lately I’ve been thinking about how blogs I read and bloggers I socialize with are predominantly female. (I was hoping to track down some stats on the demographics, but can’t find anything current. Everything seems to be from 2010? This site is pretty great, but the data is over three years old now and things have changed dramatically in that time. Anyway, my inkling is that there are more women blogging than men).

Denim Party!

Denim Party! Myself and Kim Spikybombshell

 This weekend I am heading to the Blogcademy with my dear friend Kim who blogs over at Spikybombshell. The Blogcademy is run by three women (Gala, Kat, and Shauna) who are all savvy businesswomen who are carving out incredibly successful blogging careers. Through their course they have created an international network of women (and some men), many of whom will create or continue to build upon their own businesses online.

While it is true that many blogs end up disappearing into the dark depths of the internet, never to be seen again, it is possible for those who have a bit of business nous and a lot of determination to make a living from their writing. Of course, what’s not always made clear is just how much blood, sweat and tears goes into the implementation and upkeep of a successful blog – I’ve really come to appreciate the efforts of those who have succeeded.

Homeward Bound – Emily Matchar. Highly recommended!

One has to ask, though, why is this so appealing to women in particular? In her most excellent book, Emily Matchar discusses blogging in the context of the ‘New Domesticity’ – the current infatuation with going back to the good old days (as seen through the lens of nostalgia) and living a lifestyle outside of the rat race. Her general thesis is that women are finding themselves frustrated and disenchanted with contemporary lifestyles, concluding that perhaps women still can’t have it all - a feeling exacerbated by the continuing global economic crisis (she writes from a North American perspective, but I think her point holds).

Part of this change is driven by economic necessity, the current recession, the worst since the Great Depression, has made high-flying consumerist lifestyles unfeasible. But it is also driven by a genuine feeling of disgust with the status-quo, a sense that the American dream as turned out to be a big fat toxin-laden, environment destroying, nightmare.

Personally, I think this is great. I applaud the notion that there are options for women who want to take advantage of the new opportunities opening up to them through the internet and I’m really excited to meet a bunch of them this weekend!

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

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I have a long history of not being good at anything sports related.

During my first ever cross-country race a sheep chased me down a paddock. And while I probably ran as fast as my wee five-year old legs would carry me (as you do when being pursued by angry livestock) I still came last. I followed that by coming last in every subsequent race, bar one (where I came second to last), until I went to high school and cross-country became optional. Thank God.

Around a year ago I purchased a bike intending to ride it to work on a reasonably regular basis. Of course, It took me a good 12 months to actually ever do it - I started cycling in a few weeks ago – just before unexpectedly having to move house. I was really proud of myself! Now I live twice the distance away and I’m doing my best to keep it up – although the weather really isn’t cooperating! It’s been really windy lately.

New Bike

Just after I purchased my new bike

The cycle [high]ways into the city (where I work) are super popular out my way, so it can feel a bit like you’re in the Tour de France out there. Except that I am super slow on my cute wee bike with a basket that is designed for carrying wine to picnics, and not for speed. So I get overtaken by everyone. EVERYONE. Those middle aged guys who seem to really enjoy wearing matching lycra, hipster babes on their fixies, and an embarrassing number of granny types.

That’s right, your gran is probably faster than me.

This is embarrassing enough on its own, but I generally like to imagine nobody really notices as they’re focused on their own thing so it’s not too upsetting. However, the other day I was on my way home when some young gentlemen (I’m guessing they’d have been like 13)  saw me struggling away, red-faced and puffing,up a barely noticeable incline, and decided to take me on in a race. On foot! What little so and sos!

It was like primary school all over again! Thankfully there are no sheep in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. The worst thing was that the kid was clearly going to win. I decided my pride wasn’t going to take the shame of it, so I came to an abrupt halt while he ran off down the road by himself.

Take that youths! I sure showed him.

Despite such challenges (do these sorts of things happen to other people? I also got yelled at twice that day…) I’m determined to keep at it. I have certainly noticed that I feel a lot better from the exercise, and its a lot better than being squished into a packed tram or train.

I just hope that at some point the journey home feels less like running a marathon and more like a gentle cruise. Maybe I’ll even pick up some speed!

Bicycle and Me

My Bicycle and Me

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On Fangirling: An Evening with Tavi Gevinson

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Braving Melbourne’s weather – in line before the show

Despite exiting my teens quite some time ago, I’m an avid fan of Tavi Gevinson’s blogs. For those who aren’t familiar with her work, Tavi is a bit of a child prodigy – starting out the fashion blog Style Rookie when she was 11 years old, and more recently working as editor-in-chief of Rookie Mag, a website bringing together the work of young writers in this fantastically creative and ultimately positive way. Basically what she does is pretty awesome, and I kind of wish that I had something like this to read when I was an actual teenager instead of finding myself in the odd position of looking up to someone who is ten years younger than me…

One of my favourite sections of her site is ‘Ask a Grown Man’. Seriously, who couldn’t love someone who make this happen? Oh Paul Rudd, so adorable.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/35586001]

When the Melbourne Writer’s Festival announced that she was coming to give a keynote I got pretty excited and impulse bought tickets. Turns out this was a good move as the event sold out.

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The theatre was packed with a really interesting demographic. There were hardly any men there, and I reckon the audience would have been about 50% teenagers and 50% women ‘my age’ and older. Given that Tavi’s work is aimed at people her own age, I find it surprising how much interest ‘older’ women take in what she and her peers have to say. Admittedly sometimes I am a little ‘I don’t care about that at all’, but often the content is so intelligent and honest in tackling issues such as body image and sexuality that I can’t help but be a little in awe.

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She is smart. Like, seriously smart. The theme of her talk was around how she’s using fangirling to help her overcome feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome, and that it’s actually just fine to leapfrog off other people’s ideas (in a gaining inspiration as opposed to plagiarising kind of way). And that even though it may feel like everything has been written about already, and every story has been told, that shouldn’t stop you carving out your own space for yourself regardless.

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She also really opened up about her creative process, which was frankly bit on the eccentric side. So much listing and then categorising of everything ever! Then again, I wonder what it would look like if I tried to visually represent my own thought processes… Probably a lot messier! I grabbed the above image from this post that give s a bit more of an idea of what I’m talking about.

Here’s a video summary the Melbourne Writer’s Festival have posted of the talk (totally didn’t realise the line was that long! we arrived super early and got most excellent seats):

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJRszqYqs14&feature=youtu.be]

There were so many things I loved about it, and I came away feeling really refreshed and inspired. But still a little puzzled about how she manages to do all of the things and go to high school.

Seriously, how?