HAPPY EARTH DAY! What a lovely planet we call home…did the other planets send cards?
On this cool, sunny day, I can remember the first tweet that I ever sent. Not what I tweeted, but when and where I was. I sat in Vox, a funky cafe in Kensington, Brooklyn, NYC. It was 2008. I was editor of a publication that no longer exists and, at the time, strove to learn all I could about the business of publishing.
It was a hot day, and I had a coveted, somewhat private seat by the cafe window, where I stared at my BlackBerry. I suffered from (not unmerited) imposter syndrome and was torn between wanting to jump in with all the other clever, cutting edge, and / or media industry people already tweeting about their organic kale on gluten-free toast breakfasts; and thinking, What on Earth can I say that will be interesting and irrefutable?
It’s funny to think how we agonized over those first sage words back then, now knowing how few people actually see most of our tweets. It was a different time. I sent the tweet, connected with all the people I knew, and embarked on a Twitter journey that included deep hope for the democratic power of social media during the Arab Spring, and a listless disappointment at seeing celebrities bicker with citizens of the world.
I deleted my Twitter account around 2019 because it belonged to another life from which I moved on. Meanwhile, in 2012, I started the Twitter account, @birthdayranch. For many years, Birthday Ranch was an idea that I used as a foundation for exploring digital media capabilities. (Now, Birthday Ranch is a fabulous, polished, 30,000-word middle grade manuscript chomping at the bit to be repped and published.)
Thus, @birthdayranch on Twitter was more of a placeholder for future glory. When I wrote Birthday Ranch, I picked up the account again and tried to gain traction. Hard going.
I’ve tried approaching @birthdayranch from many angles, but lately I’m seeing that the most valuable way for me to use it is not as a marketing tool, per se, but as a way for me to connect with and grow my writing community. As of today, I am up to 72 followers. (I know that this is a paltry number, but my life’s theme is sort of rapid, incremental growth.) My biggest Twitter thrill: one of those followers is one my very favorite authors, Mario Giordano—creator of the indomitable Auntie Poldi!
Now, like most lovers of reading, I love many books and authors for many reasons: their stories carry me away, or their aesthetic is appealing to me, or the character they showcase is one I care about. But, in recent years, only two writers have bowled me over with a combination of seizing me in their galloping story, making me thirst for more time with their protagonist, and causing me to linger over exciting word choices and combinations. The first is Alan Bradley, creator of the incomparable Flavia de Luce, and the second currently follows me on Twitter.
Now, don’t tell Mr. Giordano that I said all this because I don’t want him to unfollow me for being creepy, but it really is exciting for me. It makes me feel a legitimate part of the writing community that hangs out on Twitter. And being engaged with all the wonderful, creative people on that platform encourages me to persevere in solitary work knowing that others share my same journey—a connection that I rarely have IRL.
Give it a try: use hashtags related to your topics of interest (e.g., #WritingCommunity or #writerslife) so like-minded people will find you, and always be brave!