Wednesday, January 03, 2007

When Bloggers Meet

Big news. One of my blogger friends, Martha of Notions on Being, and I met at a Midtown Starbucks this morning. (I know, corporate behemoths suck, but they’re on just about every corner here in Manhattan and so make uber-convenient meeting spots.)

First off, I have to say that this is one cool-looking chick. Funky scarf, thick beautiful hair, and swanky glasses. She was so effervescent and personable I immediately felt at ease. Because yeah: I was a little nervous about crossing the cyber-line. Sometimes a person’s online personality bears little resemblance to who they are in the real world. And I include myself in that category. I’m much bolder and more articulate online than I am in real life. (As a character in one of my husband’s short stories says: “Wow, you look nothing like your e-mail address.”)

We had coffee and talked about writing and the freelance life. (Although technically, I’m not really a freelancer. R. and I formed an LLP for tax reasons and all our work is under that umbrella.) We talked about fiction and poetry and essays. (We both loved Ann Lamott’s Bird By Bird. I recommended Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg.)

It was strange because even though I’d never actually met her, I felt like I knew her so well—all from a blog. It’s a weird sort of intimacy, but perfect, really, for a writer. (I think we’re even going to exchange our fiction/essays in an informal writing group! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve been craving this kind of mutual feedback. I even answered a craigslist ad this week about a group that meets bimonthly in Midtown. More on that next week when I have an informal interview with one of the group leaders.)

But here’s the thing I realized as I was walking toward the 59th Street subway after we’d finished talking. (It’s something I first started to think about on New Year’s Day at the Poetry Marathon, actually.) For the last few months I’ve been going through a hard time, feeling isolated and alone here in New York, stressed about not succeeding at some things, nervous about how well other things were going. Feeling unconnected from my writer self yet again. Just look back at the archives on this site and you’ll see that I was struck silent from about end of October. But the whole time I’ve been feeling alone there was actually this whole community, this whole network of writing folks right there at my fingertips—online; at readings.

Funny how just when you’re feeling at your lowest the universe sends you a sign. A big blinking neon one.

Final note: When I was in Charlottesville a poet friend of mine and I were talking about how discouraged I’d become about not finding an agent for my novel and about how that disappointment had stalled my writing—both fiction and blog. And she said this: Why do we do what we do? Do we only write because of some sort of tangible reward—ie publication, or our colleague’s adulation--or is it because of who we become in the process of the writing?

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s the doing itself that’s worthwhile, not the product.

So: onward and upward, my friends.

And check out Martha's blog if you aren't already familiar with it.


Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

Oh, I'm so glad it went well. I was pretty nervous about meeting Red Jane on Tues., but like you, I felt like I'd known her forever - just after reading her blog for over a year. It's so great that we do have a blog community and that once in a while, when we really need it, a cyber friend turns in to a real life, flesh and blood friend. Here's to more of that!

12:58 PM  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

yay MJ!!! it was SO wonderful to meet you, too... and i felt the same way. as soon as i walked through the door and hugged you, i felt immediately at ease

and i'll be writing about our interaction, shortly... so look for it

i've missed being away... i can't wait to start writing again and to put into action much of what we discussed! i'm glad to see you're back to writing regularly :)

1:53 PM  

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