I confess I never thought I would like Twitter. I have been on social media ever since my daughter set up a Facebook account for me the month she was leaving for college. I have enjoyed connecting with my kids, family, and friends in cyberspace where we can post photos and share information and just be connected. A couple of years later I jumped into Instagram and have enjoyed that platform as well. I felt proud of myself for navigating these complex systems but I stayed far away from Twitter. For one thing, it was kind of scary. You could only express yourself in a limited number of characters which is a challenge for me. I tend to be somewhat verbose. Also, the most visible people on Twitter seemed to be young artists or politicians whose tweets were less than positive. It was like walking into the dark woods on a stormy night. Why would I do that to myself?
Yet in the past year, Twitter has become my favorite social platform and it is solely because of my involvement with the #WritingCommunity. What has happened in the past year is that through various hashtag events like #FollowFriday or #prompts or #vss365, I’ve connected with close to 2000 other writers, agents, publishers, readers and lovers of the written word. In an amazing turn of events, some of the best writing I have ever read has been on Twitter. Writers participate in a daily prompt with a poem or short story. The October writing prompt, #GrimList2019, has produced some of the most spine-shivering writing ever unfolded in 280 characters. And this is only the tip. Most if not all have either published a book, are in the process of querying a book or have just started story-boarding an idea but book writing is what the community is focused on.
It’s not just the work that has me excited, it’s the community itself. People tweet successes and failures and worries and concerns and there is amazing support where I would have expected rampant competition. Oh, there is that too, no doubt, but I have learned so much about the business of writing and publishing and the mechanics of it as well. Someone will tweet out a question that gets answered promptly from various points of view or post a funny GIF (which stands for Graphics Interchange Format and you can find one for any situation). Which is another thing I am venturing where I never did before. I love GIFs. There are some Twitter threads that are only a series of GIFs and there are days when that is all that is needed to inspire, laugh or just make one feel a bit better.
Of course, there is a downside with social media. It can suck you into its universe and hold you there for hours. That’s almost as scary as some of the October posts I have been reading. As a Boomer, I remember the days with no cell phones or social media and interactions were by telephone (remember that word?) or face to face (what???) Yet even I have had to be careful of the time spent on social media or I can fall down that rabbit hole all too easily.
There is another book club I am so proud to be a part of. 24 years ago a group of women answered my call to meet once a month to discuss a book that we had all read. No doubt since then book clubs have become very common and maybe a bit passe. Oprah inspired a huge push for book clubs when she started one through her talk show and many jumped on board. But my group has quietly forged on. When we started meeting we all had young children and/or babies so our meetings were sometimes playgroups for the kids although we tried hard to make alternate meetings a Mom’s day out. As our kids grew, meetings became outings with wine and sometimes dinner. What became clear early on was that some of us who only saw each other once a month wanted to catch up on each other’s lives so we started meeting half an hour earlier so we could visit before discussing the book. In 24 years, members have come and gone although there are a few original members still in the club. We have helped each other through births and deaths, cancer treatments and illnesses, shared worries about our growing children, and joys as those children have married and some of our members are now grandmothers. A lot can happen in 24 years. And through it all, our bond has always been a really good (and sometimes not so good) book.
With both of these groups, I have found my tribe. Those who love books and are clearly willing to venture into other worlds and lives and adventures and sometimes come up for air disoriented because we were so transported into the story. Those who find libraries comforting and book stores enticing and think one of the best places on earth is in a comfy chair with a book. Those who want to create a story for others to fall into. I feel pretty lucky to have found these like-minded people. In fact, I’m sure there’s a GIF for that. PS if you are on Twitter, you can find me @boomermomblog.