Monday, 29 April 2013

Learning to be a Twit, Part 2

One day, back when I was far from taking my first steps to become a Twit, I had a bright idea. Advertisers could use TV, social media and radio to raise awareness of a product before it was sold, and I could, too. I'd written a novel, so why couldn't I promote it before selling it? 'Simples!' as my favourite meerkat Aleksandr Orlov would say. Or so I thought.

I opened my Twitter account, but found myself selling air to the world. No problem. Since everyone in the UK talks about the weather, I Would Tweet About the Weather.

I shouldn't have been surprised when two followers tweeting about a missing cock showed up. I wondered why they didn't look at weathervanes or in supermarkets, but was too polite to ask. A day later, and they were still there, with the same message. Another day came and two kids followed me. Little ones. I was sure they were under ten years old. I was horrified, but too polite to shoo them off Twitter. Then I consoled myself. Those two kids wrote about random things, football and TV shows, not chickens. With 1200 followers, they were savvy and knew more than me. I tweeted about what was on the telly that night.

I felt quite silly afterwards. I was supposed to be a writer, but I wasn't using words. Since part of my novel was set in China, I thought that having English and Chinese in each tweet would be a great gimmick. If I used inspirational quotes from ancient Chinese texts, my tweets could be educational, inspirational, and give a clue about my novel. The snag was that with 140 characters, only some Chinese idioms could be translated and tweeted.

Yet it worked. One follower showed up, then two, then more. And as I got to know my followers, I realised that my novel wasn't ready because I wasn't ready. I was neither naturally funny nor inspiring like those first followers, including the two kids (who ditched me once they realised this, the cheeky little so-and-sos). @JSCENT36 copes with autism by expertly tap-dancing to urban music. @Awwwpics is much funnier than me, and @jengroover has a life that is a giant inspirational quote in itself. @Tori_Intense, @rbourey2, @ht46 and @timmydavis7 are very nice (I sincerely believe that they should write something on Twitter etiquette), and as for selling a product, @Tilleyliliane and @TabelinaInc sell lovely retro t-shirts and jewellery. 

Most importantly, unlike @TraceyH_68, @ScoShortStories and @keshavatech, who very clearly know who they are, I didn't know who I was as a writer. After my first month of tweeting, I knew that if I released my first novel and communicated in a certain way, I'd be pigeonholed into a genre like 'Westernised-East-Asian-Chinese-Roman-Catholic-Identity-Crisis-Misery-Guts Memoir'. And I don't want that.

I want to tell stories to a wide audience and thanks to Twitter, I'd achieved what I set out to to, which was reach a wide audience. I therefore have to write in as many genres as I can and make my writing appropriate for as many people as I can. With that in mind, I began another novel, a London-based sci-fi with a twist that I thought of years ago as a screenplay. Once that one's out of the way, then I'll go back to my first novel.

The new look of my website came about because I wanted and needed more colours, pages, tabs and links to other blogs. This will mean that my site will end up looking radically different from before, but the content, however, will not change. I like to think that this ever-changing look of my site but constant content is a reflection of how I'll keep developing as a writer.

I think I am getting there as a Twit. Stay tuned!

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