One Tweet at a Time.

01. It’s easy to belittle twitter: “You can’t say anything meaningful in less than 140 characters!” “Who cares about your lunch?”

02. Sure, some phrases can lift or cut: “We’d like to buy your story.” “Luke, I am your Father.” Or, “I’m leaving you.”

03. But they have power only because they’re carried by other words. They’re waves crashing on the shore of a contextual ocean.

04. Stick with me, and I’ll show you the ability of tweets to build communities, and to kick off a writing career.

05. One year ago today, I wrote a post on my personal blog, called On Jump-Starting a Stalled Writer’s Life.

06. In it, I detailed the five-step plan I devised to stop whining and start writing. I’ll focus on the first.

07: Step One: “Attend the 2009 World Fantasy Con in San Jose.” I craved inspiration. I wanted to build a supportive community.

08. A couple of weeks before WFC, I somehow discovered @inkhaven and started following her blog and twitter feed.

09. This turned out to be one of the happiest accidents of my life.

10. Because when @inkhaven got to #wfc2009, she tweeted, “I’m here!” And @sandrawickham responded and bought her a birthday drink.

11. Then @sandrawickham introduced her to fellow Canadian @erikaholt.

12. When I arrived a day later, I got to meet all three, and @geardrops. We basically moved (& drank) as a pack.

13. We also attended @sandrawickham’s Evolve reading & met all of the good people at Edge Publishing.

14. Our friendships were sparked at WFC, but we kept them strong in following months through a constant twitter conversation.

15. Essentially, if they were active on twitter, our friendships deepened, and if they weren’t, they were more likely to fade.

16. Others came into the #inkpunks fold, including @adamisrael and @winnie3k.

17. I still haven’t met @winnie3k in real life, but she is one of my favorite people.

18. Through tweets, we supported each other through writer’s block, illness, love and heartbreak.

19. Through tweets, we communicated our triumphs: Clarion workshop acceptances, editorships, publication.

20. Via twitter, fellow Clarion West student @inkgorilla and I shared our fondness for food & cocktails before the workshop.

21. When a joke by @jaymgates about zombie erotica turned into an actual anthology, @inkgorilla & I submitted stories:

22. a) @erikaholt hooked up with @jaymgates as co-editor and found a print publisher for the #rigoramortis anthology.

23. b) That imprint was part of the Edge publishing family.

24. c) I pointed @galendara to @jaymgates, and she became one of the interior artists for the book.

25. d) My story, which was acccepted, was about two zombie foodies. There is a brain cocktail in it.

26. e) @winnie3k rescued my story by helping me cut a third of it.

27. f) @inkgorilla’s story was also accepted, & we shared a hug at the workshop when we got our contracts from @erikaholt.

28. So, here I am a year later, and I owe my first publication and writing success to twitter.

29. And here I am a year later, going through a painful divorce. I’m not sure if twitter has a role in that.

30. But I’m finding the friendships that were nurtured 140 characters at a time are the ones carrying me through it.

31. Friendships, novels, and lives are accretions of the seemingly inconsequential.

32. No single tweet, no single sentence can tell an entire story–

33. Any more than my divorce defines the whole of my marriage, or who I am.

34. It takes an aggregation of letters, and words, and sentences, to give life to characters, to tell stories.

35. It takes many words, many touches, many small acts to nurture, to define–and sometimes to destroy–a relationship.

36. Through careful words, and small acts, I pray that we can begin healing.

37. And I hope to lay down a new future: as a writer, as a father, as a complex, caring human, a few words & characters at a time.

38. Cast of characters: @inkhaven = Christie Yant, @erikaholt, @sandrawickham, @adamisrael are obvious. @winnie3k is Wendy Wagner.

39. Clicking these links will take you to @galendara, @inkgorilla & @jaymgates‘ blogs.

40. And I’m @johnremy. Thanks for reading. Let us know in the comments what twitter has done for you.

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  1. Sandra Wickham
    04/12/2010 at 3:25 am Permalink

    Fantastic post! (and so clever….) My comments won’t be in 140 characters cuz I just worked on my novel and am thinking in paragraphs. 😉

    It would be a little redundant for me to say that twitter has introduced me to the most AWESOME people in the world..but I will say it anyway. Without twitter I would never have met my fellow inkpunks, who I cherish more than anything and who have lifted me up every single day of my life since meeting them.

    I met author and podcaster Tee Morris on twitter. I now personally train him and he’s going to help me with my new podcast. Through him I met Philippa Ballantine, who recently invited me to write for The Chronicles of the Order.

    I did my first podcast interview with @mplested for Getting Published because I met him on twitter. I participated as a panelist for the online “Dragoncant” event this year because of twitter.

    I met Howard Taylor, webcomic author and one of the hosts of my favourite podcast, Writing Excuses on twitter, and I’m now training him in exchange for publicity help.

    Shall I go on? I’ve met so many amazing people on Twitter, I can’t believe it, now I really think about it. Without them, I don’t know if I’d be writing as much as I am now.

    This evening was a perfect example. I was in meltdown mode, I sent a tweet off to @geardrops, who promptly put me back on my feet (as well as some others who jumped in to encourage me) and I managed to write 2100wds on my novel. If I hadn’t gone on twitter, I NEVER would’ve gotten any of those words down.

    I am grateful for twitter and consider it to be my lifeline to the world of writing.

  2. Wendy, Inkpunk
    04/12/2010 at 5:39 am Permalink

    Within a month of getting on Twitter, I was approached by Horror-web, where I got to write blog posts for a much bigger audience than the handful who read my own.

    Via Twitter, I wound up helping John Joseph Adams, who has kindly let me write headers for a couple of his (omg-awesome) anthologies.

    Thru Twitter, I met Jaym & Erika, and now I’m slushing for one of their projects.

    Because of Twitter, I met the best beta reader in the world, who has hammered through uncountable short stories, including my first pro sale. (<3, @inkhaven!)

    And in April, my best friend is coming up for my wedding. I have yet to lay eyes on her, but I met her through Twitter.

    Yeah, some people don't appreciate 140 characters at a time, but my world is built on them.

  3. Carrie Cuinn
    04/12/2010 at 5:50 am Permalink

    Through Twitter I’ve met writers and editors and publishers I’d otherwise never have heard of. I’ve met folks in real life I’d never have run into if it weren’t for our meeting on Twitter first. I’ve been supported through submitting stories, through developing an anthology idea, through creating my own small press and into our first publication. I’ve met people whose presence in my life has extended into LJ and Facebook; people I’ve had drinks with, gone to cons with, and even someone who’s become one of my best friends.

  4. Liz Argall
    04/12/2010 at 6:04 am Permalink

    Twitter stops my world from shrinking and expands me world in unexpected directions. It puts me in contact with ideas, friends and brilliant minds from around the globe. It gives me news updates on specialized topics (From publishing to the centre for disease control to UN special committees to NASA) and keeps me in touch with news that isn’t centred around America. I am diaspora now and forging community and twitter is part of that. When I am swimming in my novel or other mind intensive activities sharing a spark of what I am doing energizes me and helps me push on.

  5. MissLiberty
    04/12/2010 at 6:08 am Permalink

    This is a really great post! Everyone’s first dismissal of Twitter is *always* “I don’t care what people are eating for lunch.” Twitter is SO much more.

    As a rabid reader and indie book slinger, Twitter has made my fangirl dreams come true! I’ve had conversations with authors I admire. Publishers and authors have sent me advance copies of books to check out. Other bibliophiles and booksellers have made reading recommendations. I *enjoyed* more of the books I read in 2010 than any other year I can remember, and it’s all because of Twitter.

    Books are a slow medium – if you throw a rock, you would probably hit someone who saw ‘Madmen’ the night before, but not someone with whom you can discuss THE GONE-AWAY WORLD. Because of Twitter, I just have to tweet a title, and *someone* out in the Twitterverse will have read it. Almost every book I read now is a suggestion I got from Twitter.

    And I hate it when people tell me that the people I talk to on Twitter are ‘not my real friends’. To these people, I present Exhibit A: when I visited Brooklyn for the first time this fall, *20* people who were ‘not my real friends’ came out to meet me. Exhibit B: the next day, 30 more of my ‘not real friends’ met up with me at the Brooklyn Book Festival. It was one of the greatest weekends I’ve ever had. It feels like 1,500+ people have got my back.

    Let the haters hate – I’m not following them on Twitter, anyway.

    PS – Hope this is coherent – it’s 1am here. 🙂

  6. Erika Holt
    04/12/2010 at 3:23 pm Permalink

    Couldn’t have said it any better, John.

    To say I’m glad I finally gave in and joined Twitter would be an understatement. How else would I keep in daily (often hourly) touch with some of my very best friends? I’m so grateful for you all, and also for the writing, editing, and slushing opportunities that have come my way because of Twitter.

  7. Paul
    04/12/2010 at 6:02 pm Permalink

    “Let us know in the comments what twitter has done for you.”

    Signing up at Twitter for the purpose of using it as a LiveJournal client has, for better or for worse, turned my Livejournal blog into a daily journal.

  8. Jameslsutter
    04/12/2010 at 8:26 pm Permalink

    Inkpunks are the only reason I finally broke down and joined Twitter. So far it seems like a pretty excellent decision, even if the sheer volume of posts is a bit intimidating…

  9. galendara
    04/12/2010 at 10:32 pm Permalink

    this was beautifully said, john.
    twitter has been a powerful community building and inspiration giving source for me.
    some pretty profound things have happened in 140 characters.

  10. Jaym Gates
    06/12/2010 at 8:47 am Permalink

    I had to get a Twitter account as an intern with Fantasy Magazine. In 2 years, I’ve gone from a wet-behind-the-ears newbie to a published editor, author and publicist. I’ve learned so much, and know that it’s a drop in the bucket of what I need to learn.

    Twitter funnels a million little drops into my bucket: knowledge, friendship, communication, reassurance, wisdom, love.


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