Ugh – Twitter!...What is IT good for?..Absolutely Nothing!!
But then again, maybe it has some real benefits.
This blog post is an addendum to an earlier post - Back Yourself - from my recap of the Day One sessions at this year's Emerging Writers Festival.
Everyone at the Emerging Writers Festival wants to get published..right?
That was my hope this time last year…and then this happened… and I’ll just slide in real fast and say publishing, or self promotion to get published is a great return on spending the time to learn how to make Twitter work for YOU..but it’s a bare minimum for me, and I’ll elaborate further down.
I’ve been blogging for over a year – and some time last year the world clocked over 100 million blogs.
That was okay by me because when you first start, you are not really sure what you are doing and you hope no one finds out.
But via social media, tiny sparks of electricity bounce around the universe, and sometimes they find each other…
The first time I was published :
" This is the sixth and final issue in Volume Eight of the Review of Australian Fiction. It contains new stories by Bruce Pascoe & Siv Parker. This volume is curated by Jennifer Mills. "
" I saw Siv Parker speak at the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne this year, and have been following her on Twitter (@SivParker) and her blog ever since. She’s such an accomplished composer in those two literary forms that I was shocked to learn that this is her first published piece. Parker heroically agreed to contribute a story at the last minute when another writer disappeared on me, so I’m extra grateful to her for being here. And her story, ‘Nightwalkers’, is simply wonderful: dark, urban, and utterly chilling. Let’s call it boardinghouse gothic.
The sinister world of The Haven is ripe territory—this story is an unforgettable character study, written in a haunting noir worthy of Nick Cave at his best (indeed, I found myself humming ‘Red Right Hand’ while I was reading it). " Jennifer Mills December 2013
Please note...you have to pay to read Nightwalkers, but if you were interested to see what it was about – I blogged the first three tastes of Sweetness over a couple of months, and collated them here
The second time I was published…
I approach Twitter like it’s a combination of a radio show & what feels the most natural way to tell a story for me...a group of people sitting around a fire yarning.
Social media is about engaging people. Everyone loves stories, or we wouldn’t be obsessed with trying to get better about writing them, even if it is only a few words, or on Twitter, in grabs less than 140 characters at a time.
So I started telling stories on Twitter.
Now, there was no point to me of writing a story then chopping it up into bits and then transmitting them – that made no sense to me.... why not blog, quite frankly?
But spontaneous ad libbed stories – where my words are flying past in other people’s Twitter feeds – that’s an interesting challenge, and more like real life (or as someone said last night, it is like reality tv).
Under those conditions, you really have to engage people.
No one is reading your tweets out of pity or a sense of duty.
Not when there are troll fights, and celebrities, and cat pics to choose from.
It enriches your craft. You have to make every word count. You have to get the timing right – you can't, for example, send tweets out seconds apart because people will miss grabs…you also can't take too long between tweets either, or people will lose interest.
If you are yarning around a fire there is a tempo, a narrative arc, a host of techniques you use….like say, for example with a performance piece of poetry, where you introduce yourself, and draw people into your story, and then keep them there.
Oh, yeah Twitter is more than cat pics.
I am not the only one who thought of telling stories using a micro blogging platform – but I am the only one I know. And that’s what I liked about it the most. It was new and there were no rules for me, because I made them up as I went along.
Long story short – I created #tweetyarns, and was invited to contribute one to an anthology.
I asked that I also be given space to include a short story, because I actually want to write books, and was in danger of being locked inside a tweet box for ever – and happily, joyfully for me, they agreed, and myself and 19 other writers, storytellers and poets, all of whom are Indigenous are included in an anthology of assorted works being launched at the Festival on Saturday.
I am the kind of writer who is never happy with my own work. Not really. I have a few confidants whom I'll dot point–
- those I am related to (that’s how we all start, right?);
- one other that has been writing for a very long time and in his case you can tell because he can express the magnificence and the malevolence of this world in barely a few words – and as one of the anonymous panel members suggested and I whole heartedly agree, if you are thinking about being a writer, get out a bit, see some new places, go overseas if you can, because it may have escaped your attention that not every part of Australia is like Melbourne.
No, it’s not. Some places are down right oppressive. You’d have to be Aboriginal to really get that.
And I mean other Aboriginal experiences outside of Victoria – where I was genuinely stunned at how natural and easily dignitaries on the Festival's Opening Night acknowledged country like it’s no big deal.
Other places wonder – 'acknowledgements of Aboriginal people past and present, oh please, why are we bothering?'
Consider what it is like being Aboriginal in other states and Territories – where they have Interventions for instance, or other places where peaceful protests or any kind of street gathering are not allowed (did you see fifty Aboriginal people escorted from the sidelines of the recent Royal Couple’s tour of a Brisbane street… escorted away by twice as many police officers in one of those blink and you might have missed it moments on the news broadcasts. All very orderly, people were simply whisked away, out of sight. Gone.
- and lastly, another confidant with a good eye, who actually has read very little of my work, but we-just-connected.
Not only do I want to be good at what I write – and two years afer winning a Queensland Literary Award I can say I am finally ready to complete my first novel, because without a year and more of social media, I was not writing from a point of freedom.
I have been silenced for longer than some people at the festival have been alive.
Could not talk about this (secret), or that (shame), and very specifically, ordered, threatened, lost income and forced into poverty because I could not talk about that (crime against humanity).
And for some – and I can’t say I was one of them – but for some, you spend long enough under that regime – remember some places, some contexts are worse than others – and you will start silencing yourself, and you will fear when others speak out.
I continue to meet people who say I am the first Aboriginal person they have ever spoken to. In their life. The first. And you know why some, maybe most of them speak to me?
The cat pics. Being a normal, accessible person humanizes me. Because you could not treat Aboriginal people (any identifiable group of people) the way we have been treated – and still are, recent survey said you can expect to be spat on at least once a year in Victoria – this long history of racism and oppression could not have been sustained, if Aboriginal people were thought of as ‘human’.
It happens that I love cats. And writing. And yeah, I love Twitter.
See you round at the Festival. And of course, you are welcome to follow me.