The joy of blog pals

So I get this email a while back from Elizabeth Harper, an American from Atlanta who fell in love with an Englishman and now lives in Cornwall, and who writes the lovely blog, Gifts of the Journey: “I saw something that made me think of you and I’ve mailed it.”

I wondered what it might possibly be, while touched and grateful that a woman I’ve yet to meet or even speak to was kind enough to think of me and send me a present.

A pub bar towel. Thanks, Elizabeth! So fun!


The other night, barely minutes after I posted, I got an email from Michelle in Minneapolis, pointing out (thank you!) a typo I’d missed. How unlikely, and helpful, to have a sharp-eyed volunteer copy-editor a few time zones in the other direction.

She and I had breakfast there in October 2012 when I went out to give a speech at the University of Minnesota. We had a blast. It’s the oddest moment, these blogging blind dates, when you finally put a voice, face and body to the person whose writing you’ve been reading for months, maybe years. She writes The Green Study, in a voice that’s consistently clear, crisp and no-nonsense.

Plus, the woman served in the military as a Russian linguist!

Depending what you write about, a fellow blogger may come to know you quite well indeed, and vice versa. I felt immediately at ease with Michelle, and we quickly fell into deep conversation.

English: Entrance sign at the northwest corner...
English: Entrance sign at the northwest corner of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My first blog blind date was with Lorna, a young woman in Edinburgh who writes the blog Gin & Lemonade. I met her and her fiance, then beau, at a Manhattan bar.

On our recent vacation, we had a sudden family crisis to deal with and I knew, of all people, Elizabeth would know how to cope. It felt bizarre to fire a panicked email across the Atlantic, but she quickly wrote back a long and compassionate reply — a measure of her great kindness, as she and John had just survived a truly terrifying experience, a head-on collision. Here’s her post about it, with photos.

And then there’s C, who writes Small Dog Syndrome, which I’d been reading and enjoying for a while.

A few months ago, I needed a new assistant, someone really smart to represent me and my business interests. I need a challenging mix of charm and utter tenacity and wondered if she might be the one, and now she is. Thanks to her candid, tart blog posts, I knew we shared a love, and experience of, world travel and ex-pat life, and a stiff upper lip in the face of unpleasantness, personal or professional. You can’t intuit that from a resume!

Have you met or worked with any of your blog pals?

How did it turn out?

29 thoughts on “The joy of blog pals

  1. I think our meeting turned out pretty well!

    I’m still friends with a few people who read my first (may it forever remain defunct) blog. Which also led to my infamous misadventures in Paris.

    Strange too is the fact that most of the NY friends I keep in touch with now, came from blogging and penpalling I did years after I left.

  2. I met a few at SocialMix 2012 in Toronto. What’s great is talking to some of those minds behind the blogs. It was a hoot and the real benefit is now I can see who is behind the keyboard. It changes the relationship even if it ever so slightly.

  3. KM

    I have not, yet! But I’ve only been blogging somewhat consistently for the past maybe 4 months? Even that’s been sporadic – I seem to have a hard time either keeping myself interested in, well, whatever really OR, more often, remembering to write about something that’s been clogging up my brain and that other people might find remotely entertaining or interesting.
    That being said, I would love to start building some of those relationships and maybe meeting a few of those other bloggers at some point in the future.

  4. I’ve been in touch with a few of my blog readers in NZ – always good to meet them in person. It’s unlikely I’ll meet some of my regular international readers, given the practicalities – they’re scattered from South Africa to Europe to the US and beyond. But you never know.

  5. Thanks for the shoutout and the kind words! I’ve heard people talk about the blogging community, but I’ve only recently started trying to see what they mean. After you reached out to me, I thought, “Why the heck not?” and started reaching out to other authors I’ve enjoyed. I’m already learning new skills and building new connections and loving it immensely! It’s way behind the curve in this, but I never really thought about the personal and professional benefits to blogging until a couple of months ago and I’ve been playing catch up ever since.

    1. Here’s one small, lucky example…thanks to my blogging, Arthritis Today contacted me; I wrote a cover story for them (and became a cover girl!), was given some nice free clothes after the shoot and earned $$ from that story and a follow-up, and the original story has won me an award. All of which started with my blog.

      I think blogging offers us a lot of unrealized opportunities. It really is the most effective way to showcase a wide variety of skills in one place.

  6. Thanks, Caitlin for kindly including me in this post and I’m glad you enjoyed the bar towel. I knew I had to send it even though we’ve yet to meet. I mean really … how could I not when I saw the name of your blog on it!

    I’ve had the opportunity to meet up with fellow bloggers and some who read my blog, but don’t have a blog of their own. I’ve made some friends I really value through blogging and meeting face to face is always a little scary but well worth the effort. A quick count puts the number at nine or ten meet ups so far and there are a few more loosely scheduled for sometime this year.

    The longest distance of any meeting was with my blogging friend Hay when John and I were in New Zealand. I met Kim in Paris and Leslye and her daughter,Taylor in Atlanta. Texan Sarah who blogs from her home in London came down to see us with her husband, and sisters, Sarah and Suzanne who also live near London have met up with us several times when they’ve been in Cornwall. Frugal writer, Donna Freedman who lives in Alaska popped by for a visit when she was seeing the UK and even though Lauren and I attended the same high school, we really got to know each other through blogging and have met a few times when I’ve been in Atlanta for a visit. I feel like I’m leaving someone out, … oh yes, Armella and I met online as well and as she happened to be in Devon when I became a British citizen and she came to my naturalization ceremony.

    While I haven’t had an opportunity to work with any of these women. I certainly would if the right situation presented for us both.

    1. It’s the best!! 🙂

      It is a little scary meeting face to face when you don’t know how real their on-line persona is, I agree. But it sounds like this has worked out well for you so far.
      I look forward to getting to Cornwall one of these days!

  7. That is so cool! What a great way to connect to people! I love when life introduces you to people in ways that you’d never expect! And speaking of blogs connecting you to other people, I have a funny story for you. Today I was talking to someone, telling a story, and meant to say “I was completely blindsided” by something. Instead, I said I was completely “broadsided” by it. It made me laugh, and I thought you would appreciate it. I think I’ve incorporated your blog into my subconscious and now it’s replacing words in my vocabulary!

  8. I have met so many of my blog pals and a couple of them have become very close friends. I love that the internet allows us to connect where we might not have connected before. The funny intimate-at-a-distance virtue of the internet has worked pretty well for me so far.

  9. Yes, I’ve had a very positive and surprisingly interactive experience as a blogger. For starters it has opened up opportunities as a writer, but more importantly I’ve connected with a number of people over the past couple of years through the blog.

    I’m not going to go too much into detail, but it has made living in Korea a little more bearable. When I first moved here I had a gang of friends from all parts of the world, but over time many of these people have moved away, or back home, and I’ve felt a little isolated, especially since I moved to a new city where I don’t know many people.

    It’s a little awkward to meet new people sometimes I find, especially when I have made such an effort in the past and I’m reluctant to try to make more new friends only to see them move away again (or I might even move away as I have done in the past also) which I know is a bad attitude to have.

    Anyway, my point is that thanks to blogging – mostly about Korea – and also it has to be said maintaining an active twitter account, I can honestly say I’ve made new friends who I’ve met up with and who I communicate with regularly. They are different from the people I knew here when I first arrived, but they’re good people, and they’ll all be in Korea for a while yet I can assure you.

    It’s kind of an odd existence because I come from a small town but rely on online connections to keep my social juices flowing. But I live in big city next to an even bigger city (if you think New York is big…), but it’s one I’ve gradually learned to appreciate as one which is necessary, albeit strange.

    1. I hear you on the ever-changing friendship thing. The single greatest adjustment I’ve made living in NY (as opposed to my home city of Toronto) is how transactional “friendship” is here…what can you do for me? Ugh. I’ve lost any number of people I considered friends who just got bored or pissed off and disappeared. Very odd and quite discouraging.

  10. I can completely relate. I felt that California (especially the OC/LA) was much the same. It was difficult to tell who your true friends were and which ones were just using you to get ahead. Hollywood probably takes the cake for “transactional friendships” (I like that term) in my opinion. My stepdad is in the movie industry and is an amazing man – very genuine, sincere, warm-hearted, good-intentioned and all around awesome. He is often blindsided (or “broadsided” as I sometimes say!) by people who are his best friends when they’re working on a movie deal together but quickly fade from the picture when the movie deal doesn’t go as planned or when they find something better (until the “something better” falls through). “Transactional friendships” is a very fitting term for these types of people.

  11. You were the first blogger I’ve met from the blogging world. It was such a pleasure to talk with you, that I’m sure you won’t me my last. I won’t be prolific about it, but these connections are so much fun. I think it is difficult as adults to make new friends and blogging has simply been fantastic in that regard.

    Thanks for the mention – I immediately felt comfortable with you as well! It’s very cool when that happens.

  12. The only blogger I’ve met in person is actually a friend I lost contact with about 20 years ago when he ran off with the wife of another friend. However, he tracked me down shortly after I started blogging,He has a cooking and pop culture blog on go daddy that now republishes my blog whenever I post something new. When it comes to other people who read my blog and I read theirs I’d certainly be happy to meet them. Corresponding with people through work and other media I’ve had the opportunity to meet people that I originally got to know through emails and phone calls. Those encounters are always fascinating as I compare my perceived image of them against who they really are in the real world.

    1. That’s the nervous blind date bit…if you like their blog, will you like the person who wrote it? It raises all sorts of interesting questions about who we really are in an era of manufactured authenticity.

      1. That’s very true, Through electronic media it’s very easy to give people the image of ourselves that we want them to see. However in the real world it’s harder to keep up the facade we wish to project and instead find ourselves exposing our frailties, insecurities, and faults. Which depending on the height of those walls we’ve built can having devastating collapse adversely affecting those who based on our projected image expected so much more…

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