Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reflections On My 6-Month Twitter Anniversary

When I think back on when I first opened my Twitter account back in November 2013, and reflect on my attitude about it at that time, it went something like this:

You mean I've spent three years writing the epic novel that has captivated me heart and soul beyond all reason, given up nearly everything in my life, spent hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours learning the craft of writing, and now you're telling me it's all meaningless because I don't have 3000 Twitter followers???

This was in response to an article I read in Writer's Digest Magazine, something to the effect of "What Do Agents Look For In A Potential New Client?" I don't know which agent said it, but it went something like this:

I'd never take a look at a new author who had less than 3000 Twitter followers.

Disgusted, I tossed the magazine to the floor, stomped on it, cried, told my husband all was lost, researched if it was possible to actually purchase Twitter followers (it is, but knowing what I know now I'd never do that in a million years!).

In short, I freaked. This was mainly due to the many years I'd spent mingling around the people that I knew in my own "circle" (actually, more of a dented, bent polygon) of family, friends, clients and co-workers. My experiences with others of the human race had given me the impression that I was not particularly a "people" person. I've never felt reviled by people or repulsed by them, but I've never felt like I would have any hope of winning a popularity contest either, which was what the goal of 3000 Twitter followers sounded like to me.

To make it all even more tragically ironic, I'd kind of given up on popularity, and was in a good place about it. For years I had tried to be what I thought the world wanted of me: rich, successful, popular. Though I'd managed along pretty well, I wouldn't say I was winning any awards on any of those fronts. Plus, I felt uninspired by what I was doing. Nothing ever really fit right or even seemed particularly interesting to me in the "normal" world. Still, I soldiered on, unable to imagine doing it my way, going it alone.

I'd always known that I was really a creative type–an artist, if you will–and had gotten the impression that artists were loners. That had always been a scary thought for me, looming up over my shoulder. Like if I ever became who I really was, I'd end up like Emily Dickinson, sitting alone, lovelorn, corresponding with the outside world only through letters.

I'd decided I just had to accept that I was going to be a loner and get on with it. In my mind, I was making a sacrifice in order to create something beautiful and meaningful. The more I got into that mindset, the more I liked it. Especially when creating epic fantasy, it helps immensely to be able to disconnect from the real world. Gone went the meaningless arguments with my family about the pros and cons of Obamacare. Gone went the nightly news; the morning scroll through Facebook; the updates about Sally's Farmville achievements and the announcement that Jimbo was now mayor of Foursquare.

I thought that getting off the merry-go-round was a price that I was paying because I didn't belong on it. I wrote in solitude because I thought it was the only thing the world was willing to let me do.

I wrote three books over a period of three blissful years in which I was completely creative every day, unencumbered by petty thoughts of comparison to other people's successes, the number of Facebook friends I had accumulated, or whether or not my hairstyle was in vogue–all the while thinking I had really struck upon my essence and what was to be my contribution to the world.

Then I emerged from my cocoon and found that my personal catharsis was meaningless without that essential key ingredient: popularity.

Almost defiantly, I logged in and made a Twitter account. It all looked like gibberish for the first month or so. I had no idea of what any of the #hashtags and @accountnames meant and how they related to my general wellbeing. It felt like that scene in The Matrix, where Neo is sitting there staring at the screen full of binary code, stoically parsing it all with his mega-technical superbrain. Only mine was not that megatechnical or super. I was just confused. I hated it!

Time went on and I signed up to attend a writer's conference where there would be agents and editors circulating among the crowd. It was suggested that you could look these people up on Twitter to get an idea of what they were like and which ones you might want to meet. Finally, I had a goal! Finally I began to understand!

Flash forward to today, 6 months later  --

Today I logged in to find that I now have 500 (!!!) Twitter followers! And even more amazing than that is the fact that I quit even counting back at around 99. Because over time I have grown to truly and deeply love Twitter. I love hearing so many other people's perspectives on things and talking to people I've never met before. Through exposure to a much vaster ocean of people, I've come to understand that my own early experiences with the dented polygonish cluster who surrounded me on a daily basis was not in any way representative of the whole of mankind. Hallelujah!

I'm just saying all this to say this: If you feel like you don't fit in, or for some mysterious reason not very many people really dig you, it could be because you just simply do not know enough people yet. There are gobs and gobs and megagobs of people who are crazy and weird and gorgeously unique, just like you are!

Twitter helped me realize this.

I will be eternally grateful to that little blue bird. 

If you feel like giving it a try, I'm always happy to meet new tweeps! 
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