So, here I am, back from (the last) Writers’ Holiday in Fishguard, our visitors of the past 3 days have gone home (one left his underpants under a pillow but that’s another story..), so there’s no excuse not to get down to some writing and I’m breaking myself in gently with a blog post…
I’ve written about Twitter before – here – but please forgive me for another foray into the world of 140 characters…
I’ve recently offered to run the Twitter feed for Evesham Festival of Words (it’s @infoFOW if you’re interested), as I noticed it had died a death.
I’m making a start by giving it a tidy up and by ‘culling’ some of the inappropriate people and organisations that we’re following. (Twitter tip#1: You don’t have to follow everyone who follows you…!).
This is a time-consuming task (I reckon I’ve got about another 1000 to go…) but it also has its lighter moments. People’s profiles can be excruciating. All those self-depreciating comments, mentions of coffee and/or chocolate addictions and references to procrastinating…! They are, I have decided, Twitter-cliches. Take them off, I beg you, if your profile mentions any of them.
I suppose, because they’re writers or ‘aspiring/future/potential writers’ (I’ve seen all of these descriptions), people want to appear literary (or at least, literate) but lines such as: “There is a moment – a point on the page – when you gasp, laugh, cry, cheer, revolt or sigh. That is where you will find me, hiding in the forestry of words…” (and yes, that’s a real one) or “I’m all about lean, tough prose, & the slaying of adverbs” (it’s really there!), are best avoided unless you are trying to be funny.
Author Joanna Cannon, whom I seem to be mentioning a lot lately but that’s because she speaks/writes a lot of sense, has 10 top tips for Twitter (or ‘how to be a human being’). She’s a firm believer that Twitter should not be used as a tool to sell your books, or promote yourself (unless it’s publication day!) but simply a place to interact with other people. As she puts it: “You’re there as a human being to chat to other human beings about anything other than selling your book.”
When I read that – and in fact, when I read the whole post – I felt vastly relieved because I’ve always had a niggling doubt that I’m doing Twitter wrong, that I should be making a bit more of a song and a dance about the (very modest) e-book offerings that I have published (Oops, that’s just reminded me that as we draw nearer to September and evening classes, someone, somewhere, might be interested in my book on starting a creative writing class. Pause while I send a quick promotional Tweet out.. thus breaking all of Joanna’s ‘rules’!)
If you’re on Twitter – or thinking of joining the 328 million monthly active users – read Joanna’s post and tell me if you agree with her!
Flash Fiction Competition
On a very different note, Birmingham Literature Festival and Virgin Trains are celebrating their joint 20th birthdays with a free-to-enter Flash Fiction competition (max 500 words). Your entry must be on the theme of Birmingham, train travel or ‘the last 20 years’. Closing date is 10th September and it’s open to all UK-based writers. Good luck!