When Writers Meet: Closing the Distance from 800 Miles Apart

This is what happens when an online connection becomes real life – and it’s nothing short of surreal.

Besides working on my next book (the sequel to THIS BOOK), I got the rare opportunity this past weekend to meet someone I’ve been talking to for literally 3 and a half years. Honestly, that’s part of the reason why my writing lagged quite a bit lately – I was honestly SO NERVOUS and couldn’t focus on anything else. But well, that was excited nerves (not bad nerves) because in my heart, I knew it would be a great time. I’ll walk you through this whole surreal experience, but first I gotta backtrack a few years. Back to April 30th, 2017, to be exact.

Meeting Online

Per the suggestion of another writer at my church, I went ahead and joined the Facebook group 20booksto50k. At the time, it was a really great research forum for writers to help each other figuring out anything from creative tips to technical publishing resources. I’ve since left that group because it started to get too strict about what you could and couldn’t ask (which I’d say really defeated the whole purpose, but I rest my case).

His first message to me on Facebook

I noticed Joel’s post, talking about how he was a nineteen-year-old sci-fi writer. Wait, hold up – did he say 19? Yeah, he did. And that resonated with me because I myself was in my sophomore year of college, and I had just turned 20 at the time. It was rare to find someone my age even mention pursing publishing at this level, so I immediately commented on his post and introduced myself, thinking it was cool but not expecting anything really. That night, I had a new direct message in my inbox – and you guessed it – Joel reached out to me wanting to chat. Cool!

Building a Connection 

In the literal years that followed, Joel became someone I found myself talking to in some form multiple times a week, if not everyday via Instagram memes or something equally silly but entertaining. Sometimes I’d call him if I was especially upset, Or even FaceTime just to catch up on life and visit (the only way we could as we live about 800 miles away from each other). He even introduced me to other writers my age, bringing me even more friends I could relate to on a deeper level.

I also edited and formatted his debut science fiction novel, Terith (which you can find on Amazon HERE – and you absolutely should because even though I might be slightly biased, it really is great). Over time, he even started helping me to conceptualize my story concepts better, including helping me improve my fight scenes (the first of which he collaborated with me on was in book 2 of my dystopian sci-fi trilogy The Upperworld Series, which is available on Amazon and Audible HERE.)

Next Chapter

Fast forward to earlier this year (yes, as in 2020 and all the headassery that is this trash fire of a year). I was chatting with him on the phone, and on two separate occasions, he mentioned some exciting news that caught me very much off guard but in the best way. The first thing was that he would be vacationing nearby me, and would I like to visit him in person at that point? And the answer was absolutely YES.

The very first picture of us the day we met IRL

So now this past weekend, I arrived at his brother’s house where he was vacationing, and I got to see him, face-to-face, no screens necessary. I’ll never forget the moment when he opened the door, and he was just there. I’m pretty sure I just said “wow” or something (okay, that sounds so awkward to type it that way, but I promise it wasn’t awkward in this context LOL). He just hugged me, and then we got to spend the next couple of days walking the coastline and enjoying the beach and shops in the area (totally felt like living an episode of Outer Banks, but that’s irrelevant haha).

I read some threads on Reddit to hear about what I could expect this experience to maybe feel like, and I have to say that the suggestion of it being like meeting a celebrity is an accurate one. The only main difference is that this person most likely actually knows (and cares) a lot about you at this point, LOL.

I noticed I didn’t feel awkward at all, even if my brain kept switching in between feeling totally natural and being totally dumbfounded that I even got to be in the same geographic location as this person that has slowly become such a big part of my life even from a distance.

What Now?

There’s one more thing I didn’t tell you – He’s relocating to be (coincidentally) a lot closer to where I live. Within the next year or so, it’ll be a very drivable distance. I’m really, really thrilled about that. Life is wild, and God is so good.

Joel even told me he only posted in that group page ONCE – the post that I saw. It’s definitely a good thing (God thing?) that I was scrolling when I did, or else I never would have met him.

I’m still coming off the high of this whole crazy thing. It was easily the best thing that happened to me all year, and I’m so so grateful to have had this opportunity. 

I would love to hear some of your experiences with meeting an online friend IRL if you have one! Lmk in the comments below ❤

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