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The 140 characters that dictate my life by Emily Pattullo I recently joined Twitter admittedly with some apprehension

n as a necessity towar ds getting my book and myself out and about. (There was a time when getting yourse lf out and about was a physical undertaking, but now you can get there from the comfort of your own home, whilst sitting or even lying down!) But it takes coura ge because its an intimidating world. Its like gate-crashing a party that only the cool people have been invited to. And although its easy to get through the door, youre left crawling around in a sea of legs like a small child, pulling on the s kirts and trousers of strangers, trying to find your mum. So I began to tentatively navigate my way through this mysterious world, first b y suggesting, politely, that people might like to follow me so they could hear a bout my new book silence. I then posted a couple of links to my site and blog noth ing. Then I plugged a few other bloggers (re-tweeted is the term) nada. By this p oint I was beginning to feel like a pig at a bar mitzvah. So I reached for the f inal weapon in my arsenal and resorted to begging. Apparently thats not the done thing. After a couple of spams offering to sell me followers, I received a firm but gentle message from some kind person saying You gain more followers by partic ipating in Twitter, by interacting constructively, by networking, and building f riendships. In other words, impudent newbie, youve got to put the time and effort in! Shortly after what I can only imagine is Twitters initiation period, Brit Writers took pity on me and began following me, as did a few others, and suddenly I was nt alone anymore. I had become one of them: a Twit, if thats an accepted term. I d ont suppose it is, but Ive joined a club that allows you to say exactly what you f eel at any given moment. And its surprisingly addictive. Its a release for all tho se pent-up opinions, and the great thing is, because you are only allowed 140 ch aracters theres no endless ranting. You must get straight to the point in just a few words. Admittedly there are times when I have nothing to say, but I feel lik e I should say something just to make my presence known, so thats when I whack in a line from my novel, and hey presto, Im back in the game! And it is a game; aside from wanting to be the one to utilise the 140 characters in the most profound and influential way, its actually all about how many follow ers you have. That is your badge of honour, proof that you werent picked last for the team, respect at last for who you are and what you are trying to do. That n umber, heckling you from the screen, is your nemesis, and the only way to beat i t is to tweet as if your life depended on it. Ive never been one for blowing my own trumpet, but Im having to learn how, and twe eting seems to be an acceptable way of doing it. And presumably the more followe rs you have the more people there are to listen to you play. So as I pucker up a nd head back onto the stage I have only one hope; that everyone will enjoy the s how. @EmilyPattullo