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Rockin’ Robin, Tweet, Tweet. . .um. . . No Tweet: Or How I Had To Join The Quitterverse In Order To Write My Book & Now Have Lost The Thread

July 28, 2014 Opinion, Writers, Writing 3 Comments

 

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By

Robin Black

 

I loved the couple of years it took me to tweet approximately 8500 times. I loved the tweeting part, anyway. I discovered that, although yes, there are indeed creepy weirdos in the world, for the most part there are not. People are great. And people are hilariously funny. And that, for me, is The Gift Of The Internet. I laugh many more times a day than I did pre-internet. And I have made friends who have become important people in my life; and I can spy on my kids when they’re traveling. There’s so much about the internet to love.

But I turned out to be that most awkward of things: a writer who can’t do her work if she is tweeting six hours a day. (I know, weird, right?) And so, just around January 2012, as I sunk my soul into my burgeoning novel, I also sputtered through a few unsuccessful attempts to wean myself off that tiny blue bird, until eventually, I really did it, barely a chirp for over a year – or more! I’m not actually sure for how long. I know I broke my silence for the occasional Downton Abbey episode and other than that not much at all.

But once the book was finished, I gradually made my way back, feeling. . . weird.

Some of this has to do with the simple social awkwardness of jumping in on conversations that have been unfolding in your absence; and part has to do with my discovery while away, that though I had loved being on Twitter with gusto, I can’t sustain it in a fully engaged way and be a full-time writer all at once. Others can and I envy them that ability to balance. I cannot.

Throw into that the professional circumstance of my being asked to use it to publicize my book, and. . .it’s a bit of a mess for me right now. It’s a worry – a Tworry – for me.

When I was on there as my full-time unpaid job, I was scornful of authors who used Twitter solely or even primarily to promote their work. I was even more scornful of people who did what I thought of as the Three Tweet Shuffle: one tweet about someone else, then one about some accolade they’d received, then another about someone else. And then silence until the next accolade. Whom did they think they were fooling??

In a way it was worse than the ones who just came on to trumpet a success. In many ways it was worse.

Back then, I wrote advice about being on Twitter, hardly original. I pronounced that if you were on there mostly for promotion as opposed to for personal engagement, people would figure it out and drop you. So, if you were going to be on, you had to fully engage. Tweet your stuff, sure. But retweet other people’s stuff. Get to know the people. Thank people for every retweet. Observe the etiquette, but also open yourself up a bit. Be a real person. And so on.

That was then, and this is now. … Continue Reading

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The Three-Dimensional Self: Uncovering Personal Narratives

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By Kim Triedman

I turned 55 today. I’m not fishing for belated birthday wishes.  Trust me — I’d rather let it slip by unnoticed. I only mention it because, for me, those birthdays divisible by 5 always force some manner of reckoning or re-appraisal.

So start here: I am a writer.

Or here: I have no business calling myself a writer.

Or even here: You’re never too old to get a nose ring.

Writers or not, we all live inside our own self-narratives. By this I mean our own stories about ourselves: who we are, what we are, how we intersect with the world around us. On a purely psychological basis they are essential: they allow us to edit and organize the universe’s barrage into manageable, psychologically-affirming constructions — the scaffolding on which we hang the shingles of our lives. We live within these constructions, and they, in turn, live within us, allowing us to venture out into the wilds knowing that at the end of the day the comfort of our sanctuary awaits us.

It is a symbiotic relationship to the core. Our personal narratives prop us up by allowing us to make sense of a senseless world. We, in turn, perpetuate these stories by elaborating them — cherry-picking and molding the constant influx of experience to fit our existing assumptions about ourselves.

What’s interesting to me as a writer is how these narratives change over time. Not just for ourselves as writers, but also for the characters we create on the page. Hopefully, the individuals that populate our stories are as mutable as we ourselves are – growing and evolving, constantly adapting to a world that rears and bucks around them. And hopefully, as these characters develop, they carry with them not just the chiseled stone of what they have become at any given moment in time but also all the selves that have led them to this point. Whatever we choose to say or not say about our characters’ earlier lives, the whole of those lives must be written into every word and gesture.

In her fabulous debut novel Life Drawing, Robin Black’s narrator Augusta (Gus) poses the question: how do any of us make sense of our own fractured narratives? In one scene, Gus looks across the table at her husband Owen over a noticeably strained Thanksgiving dinner:

“…as I watched him, I thought about all the many, many Owens there, carried in that single body of his. The boy. The man he had been before I taught him wariness. The measurer of distances and the plumber of pond depths. How was it that any of us could walk across a room without our own multitudes tripping us up?” … Continue Reading

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