I have a twitter account. I’ve been on twitter for years now, and I only recently broke the 1000 tweet threshold. At this rate, I’ll be tweeting for a couple of decades before I smash into the next set of digits. I’m a complete loud mouth, so why don’t I tweet more?
Fear of making an ass out of myself.
One of the big problems with being a writer is that our work is glacially slow. We spend so much time too close to our work, and then we want some satisfaction when we finally manage to put that work out there, but Surprise! (or not a surprise if this isn’t your first rodeo) Publishing takes a long time. Example: I’m currently working on a draft that I wrote a year ago. I’m juggling it with a book I wrote two years ago, just before I got my twitter account. Yeah. And with writing, there’s so much of the process that you’re JUST NOT SUPPOSED TO TALK ABOUT.
Are you querying? Yeah, don’t mention it on your blog.
Did you just send a manuscript to a publisher? Don’t mention that either.
Are you on submission and got an R&R with super awesome Editor of Your Favorite Big Five Imprint???? Yeah, you’d better keep that under wraps, too.
The idea is to keep your electron trail good and clean. Make sure that you don’t seem like the crazy writer, but I’m going to tell you a secret: if you write, you are crazy. It’s a good crazy, but really the act of putting words to paper is complete madness.
My problem with twitter is that writing forums are usually filled with, well, writers. Sure, a google alerts might pop up if someone were to mention something specific (I queried agent X with my novel AWESOME TITLE; she said I smelled like elderberries so I’m never querying her again!), but for the most part, they are filled with writers who know what it’s like to have your query called elderberry fertilizer.
That’s just not the case with twitter.
In a forum, if you make a mistake (post too often due to profound OMG HAVE THEY READ IT disorder, otherwise known as OIRX) most of the other people are writers. So even though they look at you like you’re the annoying one, they know: what goes around comes around—they’ll be in the crazy seat someday, too.
If it’s on a forum, it’s sort of like yelling it to a crowded room, maybe someone will notice, or care enough to acknowledge you, but likely, the conversation will just keep going right over your head. But in twitter, if you had a joke or a cute cat picture and you @ someone? That’s like having it hand delivered to their house (maybe put directly on their pillow—CREEPY). (And yes, I've done this and regretted it later--too many times to count.)
Sure, I thought my joke was funny, or witty, or whatever, but when your tweet is put into the “I’m a writer, and you’re a publishing professional” context, it’s really hard to see the witty over the subtext of the tweet. Right, so you’re all about to yell at me for making assumptions, but I’m trying to save you pain. I’m worried that all tweets from aspiring writers to publishing professionals also have the subtext “pretty pretty please just love my work and be my bestie for the rest of my writing days because publishing is scary.”
So yeah, I feel like twitter just makes it too easy to make a fool of myself. Thoughts?