Blog friends

By Caitlin Kelly

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Where will that path take us?

 

I know that many of you also blog, and (happy sixth anniversary, Lorna!) have been doing it for years.

I had the oh, so snottily New York Timesian — “Oh, do people blog anymore?” asked of me at Jose’s going-away party last year (while snarfing the cake I paid for.)

Apparently, yes.

I write for a living, and have been doing so for (gulp) 40 years, since I was an undergrad at the University of Toronto, utterly desperate to (as I did) become a journalist.

No Internet then.

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Fishing lines at rest, Burtonport, Co. Donegal

People ask me: if you’re a professional writer, why on earth would you write unpaid, i.e. blog?

For pleasure.

For connection.

For exploring ideas.

For a place to muse aloud.

For a space in which to chew ideas.

For civil conversation with smart, interesting people across the globe.

For writing that isn’t, for once, tailored to someone else’s tone, length and subject matter.

For friendship.

That wasn’t, of course, the original plan.

But then Lorna and Sarge (now — yay! — her husband, and proud parents of the gorgeous girl Isla) came to New York, and I’d been reading her blog and she’d been reading mine and it was as if we’d been friends for years through our words flung out there so hopefully into the ether.

She in Scotland, I in suburban New York.

Like many of my new blog friends, we’re also decades apart in age, but perhaps not in sensibility — our shared love of books and travel and ideas and wonder at the world.

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A time for adventures — meeting Mallory

When I went back to Paris, in December 2015, I was thrilled to meet Mallory and Juliet and Catherine and others who were readers of my blog.

I met them in public places, thinking — This is nuts! What if she doesn’t show up? What if she’s an axe murderer? (Sadly, now, more of a worry than it was then.) No doubt, they, too had their fears.

Then off we went and, every time without fail, had a lovely face to face experience.

Juliet and I — both long-time ex-pat Torontonians (she in France, I in the United States) — had a wild New Year’s Eve together, that began with vintage shopping (what else?) and a terrific dinner eaten at the bar.

Mallory and I had so much fun we met twice.

I had never met any of these people before.

They had never met me.

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London –land of Small Dog Syndrome!

But we all took a leap of faith and, voila, fun!

This week I met yet another smart, savvy, worldly young woman, the legendary X who’s the bestie of Cadence, the author of Small Dog Syndrome from London; she and I finally met face to face — after years of mutual admiration — in the train station after I got off the train from Paris in my brown vintage fedora.

We talked for so long her husband called to make sure we were OK.

X was everything you’d expect of a friend of Cadence and we sat at the bar and drank cold beer and shared notes on life in journalism in New York City. I would never have met her had I not read Cadence, nor emailed her privately, nor (!) stayed with her in their London flat (sleeping on an air mattress on the living room floor) and we all survived.

What a gift this blog has brought into my life!

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The gift of friendship.

How has blogging (has it?) affected your life?

47 thoughts on “Blog friends

    1. It’s been interesting to me — and damn glad of it — that in seven years and more than 1800 posts here, I’ve been trolled or harassed almost never.

      I admittedly stay out of politics and religion, (without wanting to be saccharine and stupid), so those who seem to find this space interesting also tend to be smart and civil.

  1. I love blogging for those reasons, too. I love meeting new friends and staying in touch with my long-time online friends, but I live way up in the boonies, so, sad to say, I’ve never actually met any of them in person. That would be wonderful! Or not, sometimes. I think.

    There are many reasons for professional writers to blog for free. Friendship is one of them, for sure, but writers write and for some of us blogging is a perfect outlet. That person who wondered if people still blog doesn’t know what he’s missing. His loss.

    1. Hey, good to hear from you again! πŸ™‚

      That NYT guy was doing what snotty young male (and some female) journo’s do reflexively here — making sure I knew he was superior to me. As if. πŸ™‚

  2. Right, so. Been having a hard time recently (isolated, stressed, decaffeinated). Boiled over today. To come online and be reminded of our drinks/gab session is wonderful. Wish it happened more often. Actually brightened my day. Thank you for you, Caitlin. Keep going.

  3. this is one of the wonderful collateral rewards of blogging – i’ve met a couple of bloggers and hope to meet more over time, both experiences have been wonderful. )

      1. absolutely – and i may be close to your town on sunday. my brother who lives in hell’s kitchen is getting married in woodstock on the weekend. i’m trying to work out my plans but will be driving back towards syracuse to fly out sunday. let me know if i’m anywhere close and maybe we can meet up for a coffee if the timing works out . )

  4. It’s lovely to hear about the friendships you’ve made through blogging. πŸ™‚ If you come to London/the UK again (or when I finally get to NYC), it would be fun to meet for coffee.

    Yes, I think blogging has changed my life. I’ve made several friendships through blogging, one particularly close one — we exchange long chatty emails every few weeks. And it’s so fun to connect with other people across the world through their blogs. I might not be able to travel as much as I’d like (time/money/work) but I enjoy vicarious travel through the bloggers I follow.

  5. Well, it’s certainly opened up some doors for me, helped me connect with readers and make friends I would not have the pleasure of knowing otherwise.
    By the way Caitlin, id you see the video from last week where Jon Oliver talked about the state of journalism?

      1. Believe me, it would be lovely if my industry were suddenly awesome again, filled with well-paid, secure jobs.

        It is a total shitshow and everyone I know is getting fired or taking buyouts….being replaced by cheap 25-35 yr olds.

      2. I wouldn’t say I’m in demand (my book sales don’t come anywhere near to covering rent). But I’m happy to have paying work and a job that I like with people I like while I work on that bestseller.

  6. I have found blogging, and social media generally, to be hugely grounding. The number of people I’ve met and made friends with is decidedly non-trivial–if anything, it’s responsible for my life in Toronto being as socially grounded as it is.

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  8. What I love: With the myriad things technology can be (a time-suck, a pain, solely a work enabler), you have managed to find a way to use it for connection. That makes blogging worthwhile in and of itself.

  9. Caitlin, blogging has impacted my life in all the ways you mention (except I haven’t met anyone with whom I feel a close bond…yet). I have spoken with one blogger on the phone because I edited two of her books, though.

    I never understood how people could form close attachments in cyberspace until I began blogging. Now I get it. Just like anything else, you have to be involved in something to understand it. Outsiders won’t get what you’re talking about!

    Too many words have been co-opted and stigmatized: feminism, political correctness, liberalism, blogging. They become dirty words so the mere act of saying them shuts a conversation about them down to those with prejudices against the word or whatever they think it stands for.

    1. I think it also depends on who’s blogging and what about…

      Some blogs (not a criticism, just a fact) are very data-based, or focused solely on politics or knitting or…whatever. Blogs that (for better or worse) share something of the blogger’s life/feelings more revealingly, I suspect, allow readers to get a better sense of who that person is and whether they’re a fit as a possible friend. You can quickly get a sense of their values and priorities.

      Case in point: only after I wrote a very personal post a few years ago (which felt very risky), did this in turn elicit some more personal conversation with one follower, and that has blossomed into a deeper friendship.

      The Internet is a challenging place for women to be candid. It can get insane, and (not here) has for me. We have to be careful.

      1. So true. That’s why I use humor. I reveal a great deal, but in a funny way to deflect the sensitivity/intimacy of it. People still get a sense for who I am, though.

        I’ve heard of bloggers being “stalked” or harassed. That has never happened to me. Thank goodness.

        I just seem to find (or gravitate to) the bloggers who share just enough of their heart so that I can connect with them.

  10. patricepdx

    I SO agree! “why on earth would you…blog? For pleasure. For connection. For exploring ideas. For a place to muse aloud. For a space in which to chew ideas. For civil conversation with smart, interesting people across the globe.” Thank you.

  11. Great post. Reminded me of all the internet friends I’ve met over the years. I have one friend I met back when we were on Compuserve. Group of us hooked up thru a newbie forum back in late 90’s, and some little splinter groups broke off. She lives in Ottawa, and I’ve only met her maybe 3 or 4x…the rest of our friendship has been spent online. We used to do these whirlwind weekends in the ‘the big smoke’. Have met up, actually, in years. But back then we’d meet up in Union from our respective direction. Walk to our hotel. Drink wine, talk, have dinner in some funky place. GREAT memories. And now we connect via FB : )

    And blogging, I guess it helps me to tell my story. And that has changed me. I touch strangers, but sometimes I touch the people I love the most, and that’s a wonderful feeling. An old friend who grew up beside me, recently commented on one of my posts because she said: “your Grandmother was the first strong woman I met”. When she said that? I knew I had captured the woman that was my Grandmother. I’m addicted.

    1. Thanks for this….I love the meetup at Union Station. πŸ™‚

      Blogging allows for a special sort of intimacy and self-revelation; too much is confessional and off-putting (to me, anyway; some readers thrive on it) and just enough keeps people intrigued.

      Unlike my paid work, in journalism, where I am often judged only on (zzzz) whether the facts are accurate, this is a very different kind of writing and connection with readers. I don’t have to stress about whether this is a commercial product, and there’s a lot of freedom in that.

      1. It is a fine balance, the intimacy of blogging. I’m working on that aspect of my blog myself of late. Broadening my perspective, challenging myself. I mean, why not, eh? It’s my dang blog πŸ˜‰

        You are very inspirational for me – in a number of ways. For one, I admire your casual sophistication you have created with your blog.

        And re: Union. We are WAY overdue for another…we’ve been conspiring the last couple years on just how. Where. When. Thinking maybe a fall bike exploration of somewhere…not decided where yet. Both of us have acquired bikes this year…and both have named them LOL. Mines Rose, I believe her’s is Ophelia. I think her’s is vintage as well. Can just see us touring the trails, in some outlandish getups, of course.

  12. I started out blogging on MySpace back in 2005 as a way to keep myself sane during a period of temping. I was focusing on fitting into an unfamiliar environment and needed a creative outlet. It took a while to find my voice, but I made a lot of friends in the process. I find blogging a wonderful way to connect with people on the other side of the world and to get a window into perspectives other than my own.

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