Reflections on a Twitter anniversary

On Wednesday I received my eight-year anniversary notification on Twitter. Ah, what wild-eyed youth first took his tremulous steps onto the world stage… Which is not to say I was a total social media virgin, but certainly I was unprepared for the Bird-Site.

I signed on to the big T because I was advised to at Winchester Writers’ Conference, still the only conference of its type I’ve attended. There I was told that a decent social media presence was expected of an author, and so I went with a definite aim. That aim I’ve almost certainly missed – I have no great following, nor has any agent snapped me up on the back of it. I have garnered almost zero attention for my principled stance on avoiding principles.

So it’s all been a massive failure. And yet still I tweet – 18.6k of them at time of writing. That’s 18 tweets per follower I’ve garnered; over 2,300 per year. Why?

Because I enjoy it. Because it’s a way of expressing myself, my persona allowed to emerge. And because of the friends I’ve made along the way.

Yes, friends, because of you.

I love tweeting because it allows me to connect directly with the human race, and – guess what? – you’re all really nice. I’ve made real, enduring friendships through Twitter, and that’s the best recommendation I can give to the site. So this blog-post is for you, all you who have kept me company through good times and bad. You’re all great.

It’s also nice that I can connect directly to readers. Sadly I’ve not got so many of those – I really remember the one truly complimentary tweet received – but I’m always here if anyone wants to talk.

I’m too shy to start conversations; no good at the networking thing. But I’ve also discovered great authors and found wonderful recommendations for new lines of reading.

So thank you, all you who have kept me company on the Odyssey. Like the hero of Greek legend, I float rudderless from one disaster to the next, but I’m still more or less standing, still with the dream of one day being blown back to safe harbour.

Unlike Odysseus I find my crew growing instead of decreasing.

Of course, if it’s my eight-year Twitter anniversary, it’s also my eight-year blogaversary; I started both enterprises around the same time.

But that, dear friends, is another story.

Community

are times when it feels like one is totally alone in the world; when one is struggling on, trying to plough your own furrow in the teeth of glorious indifference. Please be reassured: help and advice and friendship is there, should you need it.

This week I find myself overwhelmed by the support I’ve received in my quest for self-publication. A few quick tweets and I found a dozen or so people who were willing and able to give me their valuable time to help me make New Gods the best it can possibly be.

I received links to websites, to authors, to workshops. I got connected with editors. I got quotes for cover art.

All this is useful, but it’s the knowledge that I have a community of friends that is the most important. So I urge you, if you’re struggling with some aspect of writing, of publication, or of any other field, to not agonise in silence. There are people willing to help.

Writers = bloody brilliant. And that goes for you as well, you lovely hunk of humanity, you.

Events forthcoming

Imposter syndrome is vicious and cruel and unfair. It’s also not forever. Fresh off last week’s soul-torment I now find myself in the crisp, clear waters of a restorative weekend away where I did nothing, achieved nothing, but found good news awaiting on my return.

Sadly, good news (especially that which you can’t share) makes for less than interesting copy. So let me fill this column with a couple of forthcoming events that I’d love to see you at.

First of all, I’m doing a ‘meet the author’ session at the library in which I used to work. This’ll take the form of a brief chat, a similarly brief reading, and then (probably) the briefest of all Q&As; all on 31st May at 17:30.

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Earlham library was the best of places for me; I loved that job – not only working with books but helping people of all stripes for the sheer love of helping; I – and all other library assistants the world over – work without any self-interest; nothing is being sold, there is no ulterior motive but to make other people happy. How wonderful is that?

It’s also the place where I started both reading and writing seriously. Before I started there, in 2005, my reading-for-pleasure had been subsumed by studies and my writing had been a series of starts-and-fails. By the time I left (2011) I’d written three novels and was contemplating the story that would eventually turn into Night Shift.

So this signing is deeply personal to me. Expect me to tear up at least once throughout the evening, even if, as I kinda expect, it’ll only be a few friends and me.

Secondly, I’m going to be at Edge-Lit in Derby on July 13th. This is my first convention, if one doesn’t count its younger sibling Sledge-Lit, and the first I’m attending as an author. I’m going to be doing a workshop (‘The Art of Description’), a panel (The Future of Grimdark, with some of the best authors ever) and a reading.

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I’m pretty terrified (imposter!) about all this. So please do come along and tell me it’s all going to be okay, hmm?

They say nothing succeeds like success. That’s bollocks. Really what they mean is nothing makes success like friends. And I really hope to both meet some old and make some new over the course of these events.