I joined Twitter three years ago thinking that somehow I could use the platform to market my nearly nonexistent writing career. I read it on a blog somewhere. And then I hemmed and hawed, and decided before I started to market my nonexistent writing career, I should probably focus on getting my work published. I had been sending work out for years without much success (I also had a couple of kids and a career, but who’s counting?)
So, I kept writing.
Fast forward three years, and I’m producing more content. Between teaching, parenting, and trying to stay well-rested (I used to write instead of sleep), I am actively or aggressively finding time to work on essays and a longer manuscript.
This past October, I had a piece appear in The New Mexico English Journal. The writing process for this essay included having a goal to write to a very specific audience—New Mexico English teachers. That perspective helped me to frame my writing. Once accepted, the essay went through an editorial and peer review process, for which I am grateful because it stretched my skill and reminded me of how much I like the circular process of revising with an editor. Plus, the editor was generous with her time and knowledge.
I experienced this before in workshops, the give and take of writer and small audience. In graduate school, Lee Gutkind, managing editor of Creative Nonfiction, visited my creative nonfiction workshop taught by Greg Martin at the University of New Mexico. Gutkind told us all to submit to his magazine. And submit I would, again and again. Creative Nonfiction is such a public place. And I am a private person, who paradoxically writes stories about her life. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t have to. It’s what I do.
Over the summer, Creative Nonfiction had a call for essays that addressed the theme of intoxication. I thought to myself, what the heck? I still have that one essay that spoke to this theme, which I submitted to Creative Nonfiction at least nine times. I first submitted the essay via snail mail before digital submissions were all the rage. I even submitted it under different titles because it evolved so much over time. And I submitted again this summer.
Through luck and persistence, my essay The Lesson appeared in the Winter 2018/2019 issue. Being published in this magazine solidifies the hunch I have always had that I am the kind of person who writes. A writer-type. A writer. I am a writer. Toward the end of the summer, my work went through an editing process at Creative Nonfiction. Having an incredibly smart and talented editor give feedback on my work was exciting and a little scary.
Once the editorial process was complete, the magazine sent me a form for marketing purposes. In terms of marketing, being published in the magazine is worth many tweets. The optional form asks for a Twitter handle and an Instagram handle. I winced when I saw the form. I have both accounts, but I don’t use them strategically. I dabble in them. I understand them, their purpose—different modes of communication, i.e. characters vs. pictures. But I have all this fear about interacting with people I don’t know, which is a problematic neuroses to have while participating on social media.
Three years ago, I decided to give Twitter a rest in exchange for more writing time, but I think now I should start doing this thing, again, which makes me nervous. This is my mantra going forward–do that thing which makes me nervous. My nerves are a signal to my brain that I need to get the heck out of town. But what if I need to stay?
I’m not listening to that voice anymore, so I filled out the form and gave them my lackluster Twitter handle. I’m going to push myself to do this thing that I know nothing about, because it might help me turn my private writing life into something more public, which makes sense if I want to write things people read.
Here was my first tweet.
The introvert dipped in her toe. It was a quiet moment.
The best part was nothing terrible happened. I mean, nothing terrible, except for the sad feeling I get when talking into the Internet noise.
It feels like yelling my name into a canyon and listening for a sign of life. I don’t like the anticipation. I’d rather read a book, either to myself or my kids.
I am not sure what will happen when the magazine comes out, and someone might read what I wrote. My work-in-progress Twitter handle is advertising an essay I have been thinking and re-writing for more than half my life. The dichotomy hurts my brain: one method of communication (essay writing) I have toiled over, while I am trying to figure this other thing (Twitter) out.
Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe I will stop feeling like I’m dropping pebbles into a pond. Or maybe I’ll get some bigger rocks.