I joined Twitter in April 2009 because I was lonely and depressed. I wasn’t looking for love or a social life though, I was (and still am) married to the love of my life and don’t particularly like social commitments. I had started studying with the Open University again, had three children – one of whom was still pre-school – and I was suffering terribly from the recent vicious illness and subsequent death of my father. I wanted to share experiences and knowledge with like-minded people.
I was also quite simply over-powered by an enormous desire to write full-time and looked on Twitter for other writers. Without a clue where to start, I followed a few famous authors.
I also followed a few comedians and celebrities that I admired, such as Stephen Fry, Bill Bailey, David Mitchell and Bill Oddie (Bill Oddie, mainly because he was at school with my dad).
It took almost a year to get right but eventually I was tweeting with other OU students, juggling parents, writers and generally fun, intelligent people. I began to notice that complete strangers were often as funny, fun and intelligent (if not more so) than many celebrities and my followers and followees lists became more and more made up of male and female writers (mainly chatty females!), natural comedians, life observers and caring, sharing REAL people. I stopped following most of the famous people because they turned out to not be very interesting or obsessed with footie.
I am interested by other people’s recommendations as to who to follow and will follow fellow writers first and foremost. But I also follow back if a local person follows me or if I like the comments in someone’s twitter stream. People that write – in whatever phase of their career – are very interesting to me and I follow with great interest that first idea for a novel, a competition long-list/short-list/win, short story submission success, experiences of struggling with a family, etc, etc… I also love the sharing of useful and helpful information and websites. The ‘Retweet’ facility – although it may annoy some, has proved very useful.
I have a handful of favourite people on Twitter and they are in a private (at least I hope it’s private!) list. They to me are like real friends. I hope they feel the same.
By far THE best thing that has happened to me this year is the sharing of my writing and the reading of other people’s. I read a lot of writers’ blogs. I don’t always get time to comment so I send them a Twitter message or I retweet a link to show my appreciation. Feedback is essential to writers and I love it.
I have gained so much confidence this year from people who have read the Haiku on this blog that I thought were rubbish and I now participate in a weekly flash fiction group and let others know by using the hashtag #FridayFlash and posting to the fabulous @jmstro ‘s Utopia site
The support and camaraderie have been tremendous.
Today it finally became clear that there wasn’t anyone I wanted to follow if I couldn’t interact with them. If I want to know what Stephen Fry is up to there are plenty of retweets of his comments. I love him to bits but let’s face it – it’s a one-way street! I have also dumped any authors that don’t interact or reply to my messages. They are either too busy or too rude or both. The lovely ones remain (smile).
By the way Llama Kevin is real.