Monday, May 31, 2010

My First Year on Twitter - Confessions of a Crazy Writer

@TheWritersDen ~ Writers, need a place to share inspiration, info and tips? Come join @TheWritersDen, the more the merrier 7:07 PM May 31st, 2009 via web

That was my first innocuous Tweet.

May 31st, 2009. One year, 13,711 Tweets.

I’ve picked fights with PETA, talked to Tony Robbins, and been constantly ignored by Alyssa Milano.

I’ve been followed, un-followed, cursed at, ignored, praised, loved, hated; the whole nine yards.

But what has Twitter meant to me?

I started out on Twitter as a lark. I had this vague notion that I’d meet some writers and share information; tips on writing, things like that, and that would be it. It took me a month to figure out how to reply to people, and switching between my Profile, Home and Mention page was a minor catastrophe. And who were all those people following me? Or was I following them?

I sometimes got rambunctious. I tweeted too much. I think I lost 50 followers one day. And I learned that people can get touchy if you behave like an ass.

In all, Tweeting is not the simple thing people make it out to be; there’s nuances, rhythms, beats. There’s a way to do it. Just don’t ask me how! I’d never be able to articulate it.

I’ve met so many wonderful people; editors, writers, artists, sheep herders, degenerates, nut jobs, bad spellers, geniuses, losers, goofballs and a crazy contingent of Aussies and Brits; I truly have loved you all. Even the one's who've gone to oblivion. Some have even passed away. Also, For those of you that don’t know, I fashion my twitter feed for a very eclectic mix. I mean, writers are crazy and they entertain me endlessly with the nutty stuff they come up with, but I also have a few celebs (shame, I know) and the odd person outside the literary circle. Mostly it's a crazy stewpot of characters. Also, I’ve had followers who’ve had no discernible motive for being on Twitter; then out of the blue I’d get a message from them saying that I’ve motivated them to start writing again after giving it up.

I find that very inspirational, and I feel honored by that.

I never thought I would have as many followers as I do. More impressive: I have some of the best followers on Twitter. Most of my originals are still hanging around. They Tweet less than they did a year ago, but as they say, life gets in the way. I know the feeling. I once had a love affair of sorts with one of my Twitter people, and it didn’t end well (maybe it did; we’re still great friends) and I had to take a break from it all. It’s funny, I’ve been accused of taking Twitter so seriously, but in the final analysis we’re still dealing with human beings, emotions, feelings. Yes Tweets are only text messages flashed across my Stream, but those words come from real people. If you’re asking me to be cold and unemotional about it, forget it. I love people, it’s just my way. I don’t care if I’m face to face with them, or just messaging them from 3000 miles away. That’s just how I roll, to paraphrase the hip-hopsters.

Our Twitter has been equated to a giant online cocktail party. The writers, our little island on the net, are probably the most ideal people for this type of medium: we yap a lot, have our heads full of useless information, and we can talk ad nauseum about our craft. The hard part is keeping it at 140 characters. This is something that is antithetical to writers! Which brings me to the quotes…

Yes, I post a lot of quotes. In the beginning I followed a few people whose tweet stream was based on posting quotes on various subjects. Then they started getting repetitive, and I mean re-posting the same shit over and over. Naturally I un-followed after a while (Something I don’t normally do. You have to be really nasty for me to un-follow, and even then you’d probably un-follow me first) I started posting quotes on writing, among others. I suppose I’ve gotten a reputation for it. Here’s a secret: I have thousand of quotes about literature, from movies, television, any unlikely source, all on a word doc ready to Tweet at a moments notice. I really put my heart in to it. Someone pointed out that I was using quotes as a proxy for my inner feelings. So If I was feeling sad, I’d post something sad. Happy? I’d post something happy. I was doing it unconsciously. I tend to run on intuition.

So now, after a year, I continue to reinvent myself. Twitter, according to stats, is mostly a broadcast medium (I disagree) where the majority of people tend to just tweet without interaction. I find that limits the potential of such a wonderful social tool. I know intuitively that people are social animals – and if you reach out to them they’ll respond. And I have met some wonderful people. Maybe it’s my goofy nature that disarms them.

So what does it all mean?

This may sound dramatic, but Twitter has changed my life. As a writer it has become a daily need. If I need a beta reader, someone’s there for me; someone to read my blog post? Someone to talk to when I’m feeling blue, and my writing is sucking bigger then a vintage Hoover vacuum? Someone’s there for me. And for a writer, that’s the most important thing; that instant interaction, that instant gratification! I’m in a happy place now where I’m more motivated than ever to write because I know that there’s always someone willing to read my stuff. Without Twitter I was kind of lost. I don’t know about you, but I don’t meet writers going to the grocery store, or bump into them in the men’s room very often. You meet them on Twitter. You get to know them. You become friends. And it’s been one of the best experiences of my life.

Here’s to another year of fun and writing. Huzzah!

Related Madness: Tweeversary Reflections: Celebrating One Year on Twitter (via @addthis) by my Good Friend @ggSpirit

Also, if you're so inclined, I have archived all my tweets since January (the rest are in oblivion) on my site Project Hunter

Addendum: This post was inspired by @ggSpirit, who, amazingly, started on Twitter the same day I did. I recommend her post above; her thoughts on a year of Tweeting.

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