Deborah Jackson

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How I Came to Love Twitter

It was unexpected. It began as a chore.

You must promote! As a writer you’re hammered with this notion incessantly, even though you despise self-promotion. At least I do. I write because I can’t imagine not writing, but once the book is published, all the other tasks that accompany it are tedious. And in the back of my mind, I think I’ll never measure up to the literary geniuses, so how can I promote myself?

Despite my distaste, I gritted my teeth and I joined.

Over a period of time the duty became a joyful experience, one I rush toward every morning and at various hours during the day.

The joy began when I realized that Twitter was more than a vehicle for sales. In fact it was the quite the opposite.

A universe opened up to me – a universe of information at my fingertips, breathtaking photographs and art, but above all people. These people had incredible insight, generosity and gift of the gab – in 140 characters or less. Immediately I realized that I would not self-promote, but I would take in and I would give back. When I began to do that, friendships developed – extraordinary friendships over vast distances that could never be bridged except in the cyber world.

Twitter emerged as something quite different from Facebook – more than “I know you from somewhere, so let’s connect.” Instead the connection occurred because of shared interests and passion, the way we sometimes make lifelong friends at conferences. For me it wasn’t just writerly people, but those interested in science, photography, art, archaeology – other passions of mine. It opened up an astounding world of fascinating, comical and complex human beings.

Another thing occurred to me as I observed and explored this strange and wonderful network.

Twitter was another manner of writing. A vehicle of expression, albeit a raw, ragged, sloppy one, minus the rewrites and editing. I could play around with language, something I love to do. Usually I express my thoughts, through characters and situations, of course, in 90,000 words. It’s a long, very self-involved process which I call “creative mode.” The purpose of writing is often personal – to transfer what the author is passionate about into a comprehensive tale while exploring various characters - weaving mulicoloured patterns into the tapestry, then trying on different outfits and diving through the mesh - but there’s also that desire to connect with readers. The problem with novel writing is that, for so many years, the author has been distanced from the reader.

Twitter allows you to connect directly. You can’t tell a tale, but you can inject personality and, because you’re constrained by the number of characters, it forces you to become creative.

I love the hashtag. Not to promote an idea or subject across the Twitterverse, but to add a splash of humour or contradict my own statement. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s me.

I like to comment on scientific discoveries or photographic enticements or rocks. Yes, rocks! But most of all, I like to smile, wink or chuckle with Twitterpals.

If you’re into Twitter simply to sell something, then I think you’ll become disillusioned rather quickly. Nobody wants to hear a sales pitch. But most people, if you really listen, have something valuable to say. And if you’re willing to give of yourself, your return will be more than you imagined.

If you smile at someone and they smile back at you, it’s worth more than all the gold in the ground.


Jim said...

Yeah, twitter's alright, I guess. #totallyaddicted

Lizann Flatt said...

Ah, you are so right Deb. Great insights!

Deborah Jackson said...

Thanks, Jim. I know it's not that great.

Thanks, Lizann. I'm glad you agree.