Making friends.

It’s not easy to leave the cave. It can be dark, comfortable, routine. There are no surprises, nothing unexpected.

A few months ago, I left my cave multiple times. I co-hosted Rock Apocalypse in Cleveland with Zach Bohannon, and then a few days later, co-hosted The Sell More Books Show Summit with Zach, Jim Kukral, and Bryan Cohen. I’ve recently written more about that event on the Story Grid blog.

If you’ve ever decided to go to an event, whether as an organizer or attendee, you know that there are costs involved. The most obvious is financial—travel, accommodations, food, etc. But those are not the only costs. Time, undervalued by so many of us, can also be costly. Time spent at the event is time not spent doing something else, like activities with a clear return on investment.

Zach brought his wife to Chicago for The Sell More Books Show Summit, which meant we wouldn’t be sharing a place as we tend to do at events. We invited our mutual friend, Tyler, to join us in Chicago, and so I shared an Airbnb with him for the weekend. Tyler writes postapocalyptic fiction under the name T.W. Piperbrook. Tyler and T.W. are both pseudonyms, so let’s just stick with Tyler.

We could have gotten private hotel rooms. Or, we could have shared the apartment and not engaged—making small talk and tolerating each other during the time we’d be there together. That would have been easier, and certainly less stress for me as an introvert. Tyler is highly extroverted, so I’m sure that wasn’t a concern of his.

However, I also understand how valuable it can be to get to know someone in real life. Even more so, sharing a hotel room or accommodation is even more personal. The bonds I’ve developed with other people when I’ve been in this situation before have been life-changing.

Tyler and I hung out. We laughed, we talked, we went pretty deep in sharing some personal aspects of our lives. It was great to get to know him as a fellow writer, musician, and professional, but it was even more meaningful to me to become better friends.

Often, we make decisions about where we spend our time based on the perceived value we expect to get out of the product, service, or event. As we should. But doing a strict cost/benefit analysis isn’t always comprehensive.

How do you put a value on sharing a coffee with a friend? What’s it worth to sit down over a burrito and talk to someone you’ve only emailed or tweeted at previously? Where will your career go if you approach a colleague and strike up a conversation about their current project?

These connections don’t happen in a Twitter DM or in Facebook Messenger. The friendships and professional growth that happen when humans come together are priceless. As of now, it can’t be replicated with a text message, email, or Skype call. It just can’t.

Tyler lives in Connecticut, and it’s not like we’re going to meet for coffee once a week. But I feel like I know him so much better after just a short weekend together, and I consider him to be a friend. And when I say friend, I’m not talking about Facebook.

I always enjoy returning to my cave, but I have to remind myself to get out of it every now and again.

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