Every few days here in Los Angeles, usually when I'm paying for something in a store, someone takes a double take at my accent, and after I have explained that yes, I am British, that I come from the home of Kate Middleton, Harry Potter and Downton Abbey they ask me if I am here on holiday. I reply no, and that I live here. They ask me what for, and I'm momentarily stumped. There are a few seconds when I have no idea how to answer them, then I rattle off the most acceptable and quickly explainable answer for my presence in one of the most famous cities in the world; I'm here to study. I'm enrolled at UCLA. I say this because it is the truth; UCLA is the official reason I decided to move half way around the world, and it is the reason I managed to get a student visa that made it possible. However, the reason I pause, that I have that little moment of indecision is because in my head, while I do attend classes, and for the most part enjoy them, school is not the main or biggest reason I decided to spend the year living in Los Angeles.
Blogging from inspiration found in some of my favourite French fashion magazines sitting on my bed at my parents French house in 2011. I think there was a plate of macarons somewhere out of shot. Sharing my life in France and connecting with French readers the same way I'd done with readers living in the countryside like me, and I would later do with readers in London and Los Angeles made me realised that I could do whatever I wanted with blogging.
There are other, more personal reasons I could give for deciding to essentially put my life in Kent and in London on hold for 10 months, but for me the main reason why I chose Los Angeles as my destination (and decided to apply to study in America in the first place), was for my blog (because honestly, how awesome was a years worth of LA based content going to be? It is a simple truth of my life that now whenever I think of a holiday destination the very first thing I think about is how easy it will be to blog about!) It's funny, from something I started while I was supposed to be doing my homework in my dormitory at boarding school almost 4 years ago to channel my excess creativity (anyone who has ever taken GCSE Art can tell you that the exam is enough to stamp out most of your creative spark!) my blog has turned into my biggest and most enjoyable project; it has really become part of me, and part of my identity; experiences I've had, lessons learnt and opportunities I've gained through blogging have shaped the person I am growing up to be. Looking back over the last few years and realising this, as well as finally getting some idea of what I would like to do with the rest of my life and knowing I would never have discovered something I am so passionate about without my blog to help me along, makes me realise that us bloggers, be we the people who just write the odd post at weekends around their job as a creative outlet, or work hard like me to try and realise the dream of blogging full time for their career; none of us should ever take our blogs for granted. Blogging is an ever changing, ever evolving field, and looks totally different to how it did when I first started. Pouring all of your love and passion into your blog and not taking it for granted guarantees you'll be able to reap benefits that have not even been thought of yet.
So, aside from simply sharing this rather reflective post slash inspirational message, why am I choosing to write this now? Well, some of you may have heard of The Blogcademy, a two day traveling blogging workshop run by Gala Darling, Kat Williams (you might know her as the pink haired face behind Rock 'N' Roll Bride) and Shauna Haider (who is better known as Nubby Twiglet) which has already taken New York City by storm, and will be heading to London pretty soon. Now, while I'm usually a Londoner, they've just announced dates for Blogcademy in Portland and in Los Angeles, and I will still be residing in this amazing city when they arrive here, and obviously I want to attend one of their workshops - I've wanted to learn from these three bloggers who I've been reading (and admiring their business skills) for years since I heard about the first New York workshop. Unfortunately as a student I can't really afford the classes (like I'm glad the IFB Conference has always been in New York in the past, as I don't have to care too much that I can't afford the price of the ticket!), but lucky for some, Blogcademy offers a scholarship for each weekend so one lucky student can attend. I think you can all see where this is going now; this blog post doubles as my Blogcademy scholarship piece! Some people for past scholarship entries have made videos, or collages, but while it may seem pretty basic and simple I decided to just write; because before anything and everything else I am a writer. (Okay, I'm also a cook, but in my LA apartment I don't have the equipment to make a Blogcademy inspired layer cake or cupcake tower!)
So, why should Gala, Kat and Shauna, the Blogcademy 'headmistresses' pick my entry to win a Blogcademy scholarship to attend in April? Well, I think the first and main reason (aside from the ones I've already mentioned, blogging being part of my identity etc.) is that I can't really see myself doing anything else with my life than blogging, and working on other creative projects that all stem from my blog. I've always loved writing and photography, and discovering the world of blogging where I could combine both of those things into posts that I could share for other people to enjoy is simply the most amazing thing, and since I worked out how to make a little money from it, I kept wanting to make my blog bigger, better and of a higher quality every single week yes, to make more money, but so I could have something to show from the hours I spend hunched over my Mac Book that I am really proud of. I used to paint and draw, and while I remember always feeling that little kick of self accomplishment whenever I finished a piece, it was nothing to how I felt when I was putting together my Retrospective on 2012 post and I looked back over my recipe posts for the year and saw how much through hard work and practice my food photography had improved. It really made me want to do better.
Ironic I'm illustrating this with a photo that does not show my face, but blogging outfit posts helped me get over my adamant assertion that I am not at all photogenic, and stopped me hiding from being in photographs. Blogging also made me brave enough to experiment with wearing bright colours and prints, but thats another story!
Next, I need to learn new skills. Like as a kid I always felt I could learn more with my schoolwork (actually I still think that, I'm taking Milton yet again this quarter to try and drag yet more out of Paradise Lost!), I know that I will never stop learning important lessons from blogging that I can apply to my life and other projects. While I learn something new every day, be it about social media, or the technical side of blogging through my experiences every day, the thing I love the most about the world of blogging is that it is a community; we're always learning from each other. This is my roundabout way of saying I'd love to benefit from learning from other bloggers who have proven themselves to be successful as well as from other Blogcademy students, as there is always more to learn. Back home working doing the PR and Marketing at Pilgrims Nook, people ask me where I learnt to do all the PR and social media for the company without ever having a formal job or training in social media. The answer? I learnt everything I apply to the business from experiences I've had blogging. It would have cost us a lot to get the online and media presence for our family business established if I had not been a blogger. With only 16 months left until I graduate and get thrown head first into the world of work, where I'll have my own rent to pay, aside from the worries of feeding myself etc., now is the time I really have to think about focusing and expanding my blogging and related skills in order to be able to keep on doing what I love.
My third and final reason I would love to attend the upcoming LA edition of Blogcademy (kudos to everyone who is not my mother for still being with me at this point, apologies that this post has come to be a little bit longer than some of my usual wordy posts!) is I have plans. Big, blog related plans that while I'd love to share with you all, I can't yet, but I've been working on all Christmas and I will continue to work on throughout the New Year. You'll just have to trust me on this one. They're food related, and everything food related is worth waiting for, right? Anyway, these plans for the blog and for the real world as much as I'd love to make them a success, I know the headmistress have the skills I need to implement them, so I'd love the opportunity to pick their brains. Okay, so now I feel really cruel for leaving you hanging, so here is a recipe I found for Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Crinkle Cookies instead, to say sorry!
So on a parting note, if I do win the scholarship and get to attend Blogcademy in April, I promise I'll take lots of notes and share them all with you! Also, though I hate to ask at the end of such a long post, I would also really really appreciate it if you could show your support for my entry by either Tweeting Blogcademy or mentioning to them on Facebook that you'd love for me to be able to attend and take notes for your all!