(If you haven't already, read the why I write introductory post)
I had brunch this morning with my fellow writers at The Sunsphere is Not a Wigshop, a little reference to an old Simpsons episode that brought Bart and friends to Knoxville. It was sort of a business meeting, but I think we all had a little fun laughing about stuff in our weird little city and just shooting the breeze. I know I did.
I've mentioned before my social anxiety when it comes to stepping outside of my comfort zone. Here's the thing about our brunch this morning: it was the first time I'd met most of my fellow writers in person. And I had absolutely no anxiety about meeting them.
When I started The Modern Gal over a year ago, I was commuting for work on a weekly basis between two cities that were three hours apart. I was crashing at the Modern Ex's place when I wasn't sleeping in my own bed. I was keeping the most ridiculous hours regardless of which city I was in. All of that equals a recipe for not seeing your friends EVER which is one step down the slippery slope to depression.
At first, I only wrote about the stuff I was interested in and had a no-personal-writing clause in my contract with the Modern Gal. I didn't think I had anything to say about my life that would interest anyone, nor did I want anyone to be able to identify the real-life me from my writing here (I think that's gone out the window. Still, no writing about what I do for a living nor mentioning my real name). I wanted the MG to be more like a magazine that other gals like myself might find interesting. At that point I hadn't discovered Dooce or any of the other fantastic bloggers who now grace my blogroll, which means I hadn't discovered that there actually is a market for personal writing, if you do it right. The more personal blogs I added to my blogreader, the more I started to write about myself here.
And that's when I started getting readers. And comments. And the posts and comments became conversations. And the conversations forged connections with other bloggers. And the connections became friendships. (And here is my free tip for any new bloggers out there: the way to get people to read your blog is to go forth and comment regularly on the blogs of the people you want to read it.)
It didn't take long for me to begin meeting my blogosphere friends in real life. It was easy for me to meet Mickey and Courtney and Em, since they're all living in Knoxville. I met Heidi on my road trip to DC. And I met dozens of local Twitterers. And yes, Vanessa, though I haven't met you yet, it's going to happen and I hope soon.
And I never, ever, ever felt anxious about meeting any one of those people in real life, which I will remind you is completely out of character. There's a reason for that, and CK, one of my fellow Wigshoppers put into words today exactly what I've thought each and every time I've met a new blog friend in real life: you never have to go through the awkward first-date-like small talk conversations when you meet a blogger friend for the first time. They already KNOW you. You already have things to talk about.
Like when Courtney and I hang out tomorrow to watch the Super Bowl together, I know we can talk movies if the commercials turn out to be as unexciting as people are claiming they'll be (seriously FedEx? no commercials?) And if I ever need a suggestion for a good trail in the Smokies, I can ask Mickey. And when I broke up with my boyfriend (I swear, I'm sick of saying that phrase. I hope I stop feeling compelled to say it soon), I knew I had to blog about it to tell my friends out in the blogoworld what happened.
I found it especially difficult to make friends while I was living in Nashville. But since I've begun blogging and have moved to Knoxville, I've had no problem whatsoever. Some of that is work-related, but most of my friends can be somehow traced back to throwing some words onto a website and clicking "Publish Post." (Lather, rinse, repeat.)
Blogging takes the awkward out of making friends. You gravitate towards blogs of writers who share your interests. You probably only meet the bloggers who you already feel you've connected with. So by the time you meet them in person, they're already old friends. That, my friends, is both silver AND gold.