Twitter. Just the hint of mention and the crowds go wild. Right now, on a computer/smart phone near you, Twitter is alive and pulsing with an enigmatic fusion of feistiness and connection. People are communicating with strangers over what matters most to them (or bashing the wives of notorious #husbandfails), and in the writing community, never-before-seen access between writers, agents, and editors is being carried on 140 characters at a time. Heck, even the U.S. Library of Congress is getting in on the action and recognizing what a resource Twitter is.
And I am not on the bus (said with a regretful sigh).
Oh, I have a Twitter account and even a little birdie on the side of my blog, but that’s like me buying the toe shoes to be a ballerina, but never actually putting them on (or paying for a membership to a gym that I rarely attend—Oh No! It’s a pattern!).
But I am a #twitterfailure and I’m here to explain why, and possibly search for suggestions on becoming a #twittersuccess or to be called out for my reasoning (just be gentle, okay?).
I know that Twitter is an amazing tool for writers. After all, my BFF hooked an agent’s interest in 140-word doses, which led the agent to her blog, to contact her, and to eventually, after catching a glimpse at her talent, offer her representation. And so the BFF/Awesome Agent love affair began through Twitter, so much like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks at the top of the Empire State Building.
Some of my favorite authors (Maggie Stiefvater, Cassandra Clare, Melissa Marr to name a few) are active in the world of Twitter, which makes me even more angsty about not participating. But I’m not sure what’s to be done. So, let me make my case.
The number one reason I am a #twitterfailure will come as a shock to some and will make others fall over laughing.
1. I can’t think of anything to say. #twitterblock
Yes, I know. I write. Lots. Someone who writes, say, more than 1,247,692 words in two years, isn’t the person you’d think would run out of things to say. But it’s true. There is a big difference between being friendly with words in a fictional construct and having short, pithy things to say on Twitter (at least that’s my position). If I were contributing 140 characters to a story, I’d be there. But sharing things about my life, not so much.
2. The things I do have to say, I really don’t think anyone wants to hear. #livingglitzfree
This might come as a shock, but I don’t live a very glamorous life. I get up early, go to work, come home, fix dinner, play with dogs, write, and fill my remaining time with taking the dogs to the park, exercising, watching bull riding, marketing my writing, researching agents, writing blogs, spending time with friends, etc. So, #lessthanscintillatinglife leaves me with not much to share on Twitter. And I’m certainly not knocking my life here. I love my life and how I spend the hours I have, but I really don’t think the Twitter folk would want to hear about my stellar dog walks. (I’m just as bad on Facebook. I admire those with things to share... with the exception of all those Farmville requests, but I just don’t share much for the same reasons as with Twitter.)
3. I’m shy when it comes to talking about my writing journey, especially the details about rejections and such. #colormetweetshy
As much as I’ve come to love my blog, it is still really hard to share my writing struggles, and yet I’m very open about the personal scape occurring behind the scenes. I’m not a very guarded person about most things, and yet Twitter just makes me nervous. I don’t know who’s reading them or if I will accidentally overstep and bug someone. And rather than risk it, I’m silent.
4. I might just have some issues with talking to strangers. #strangerdanger
I absolutely love how much community exists online for writers. BFF #TwitterGoddess Debbie (who is the reason I warmed to blogs in the first place) has regaled me with inspiring tales about the wonder of the Twitter writing community and the offshoots like YAlitchat, but I just can’t seem to find my way through the landscape. I did try to do the YAlitchat on Twitter, but the frenetic pace and multiple, simultaneous conversation lines made my head just about explode. Debbie did advise obtaining the transcript and said I might find that more helpful. To me, it’s very much like aerobics class (which I do not attend so that no one is injured due to the I’m-a-step-behind frustration that inevitably ensues). The chats go by so fast that I just can’t catch up and, because of number 2, I am just going to sit there even though I’ve read most of the books they discuss, have significant opinions on YA topics like fantasy world-building, and yearn to discuss them with other people familiar and interested in them. I just don’t seem to know how to begin a dialogue with strangers. Blogs are different because blog writers share more, have time to share more, and I can feel as though I know them enough to comment (though I still have blog-commenting anxiety).
I can actually hear BFF Debbie right now. “Well, you need to just get over that.” She’s big with the tough love, and I’m grateful for it. More than anyone in my life, she’s made me question and subsequently break dark and broody patterns that were keeping me stuck. And I recognize, without blogs, my BFF and I would never have connected. So, power to blogs, but Twitter... picture Bambi on the ice (in early spring).
5. I’m going to throw this one in even though I can hear some of the rebuttals already. Time is a factor. #twittertimefail
I spend 40 hours a week on a computer for my job. I write daily, so add an hour or two (sometimes three or four) a night. I can’t tweet while I am at work. So that means, to give myself the time to get comfortable with the process and maybe connect with others enough to have a conversation, I would have to not walk the dogs, not go out and meet friends, or talk to my far-away friends on the phone. I’m a person who rolls my eyes (internally or externally if I’m feeling snarky) when people tell me what they don’t have time to do. I truly believe that if you really want to do something, you will find the time. And I guess that is where Twitter slips. As much as I feel like I’m missing out on a potentially productive and fun adventure, I just can’t let go of my away-from-computer activities in order to become a #twittersuccess. (And FYI, my phone is anything but smart.)
So, if you have some advice to share, I’d love to hear it. I wonder if there are other #twitterfailures out there and if they question that decision. And among the #twittersuccesses, I’d love to hear your secrets. How do you know what to say? How do you find time to participate (especially if you work a full-time job, too)? And, I guess, most importantly, how do you connect with only 140 characters at a time?
Quote for the Day from Charlie Chaplin
“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.”