I was recently asked to write a short comment about how Twitter helped me ( @NikkiDreams ) as a poet. My new friend Tony Riches ( @tonyriches ) over at The Writing Desk: Writing, thoughts and useful links for writers got more than he bargained for I think. Well simple request kind of turned into an entire blog. I have so much to say about this and to understand how it helps me you really need to know a little about my past as far as that is concerned and how I evolved to this point.
I first started writing about 3 or 4 years ago in my early 40’s. Before that I have never written or read much of anything. I hated English and literature all through school. In fact until 5 years ago I had not read more than maybe 15 books my entire life. As a Fine Arts major at East Carolina University in North Carolina I continued to loath English, writing and literature until I had one amazing and inspirational class during a summer session my “2nd” junior year. It was “Old English”. The teacher had a masters in it along with a few other degrees. Books like “Beowulf” and “Njal’s Saga” blew me away. I still have the books I bought for the class to this day. The teacher even spoke old English and read poems and stories from that period. That planted the seed in me that took another 17 years to grow. but I was captivate and truly inspired by what I read and learned in that class.
17 or so years later while going through a very difficult, painful and metamorphic period in my life, I started writing. Blogging actually. It was a cathartic and healing experience I started to enjoy immensely. My writing began to blossom and so did my appetite for reading. I have read more books in the past 5 years than my previous 40. I started writing more poetry offline. And eventually started posting it in between regular blogs. Almost overnight I found a new creative outlet that appealed to me as much as my other artistic pursuits in music and illustration. I posted and people responded. That fueled me as much as any visual artist receiving favorable reviews about their work.
Then came Twitter a few years ago. I went a year without using my account. Then I started cross posting poems and linking them on Twitter to reach more people, faster. Twitter is a hugely viral way to get instant feedback and provide expose for more people directly to to your work. I use Twitter more and more as a tool to get that exposure and instant gratification, as well as just make some great frineds online. Amazingly I have only recently realized and taken advantage of using Twitter to educate myself and find other resources. Connecting to other writers of all types has really been a blessing not only to see how they write but to find great resources. The first Twitter poet I satrted following is Samuel Peralta ( @Semaphore & his blog Semephore ). Jessica Kristie ( @jesskristie & her blog jessicakristie.com ) is another wonderful poet among several I follow. One Stop Poetry ( @Onestoppoetry ) is also another really wonderful connection for Twitter Poets.
Interestingly enough the art of writing micro-poetry on Twitter is great practice for writers. You really have to think sometimes to get an idea across elegantly in so few words. And there is almost no better outlet for stream of consciousness writing. I do that all the time on Twitter and Tumblr with short poems and bursts of creative ideas. It makes you think in a much different way. If you are good you can successfully break with accepted grammatical rules that actually work better in poetic formats. While this is my opinion, I have found the best poets not only break with tradition on a grand scale they even make up their own words as part of the art. Fitting everything in that 140 character burst of writing forces you to do that more often than not. And it is good for creativity. The AP and Chicago style books and my High School English teachers may cringe and disagree. But what is art if it does not break the rules and create new ones.
All those micro-poems, lines of Haiku, creative thoughts and “Twitter Poems” have helped me learn how to write better. Often, those little bursts of creativity are seeds for larger and more complex ideas that grow into full poems. One of those little bursts on Twitter actually evolved into a full screenplay that I am writing. And the coolest thing is not only the instant feedback, but the reminder is always there in your timeline so you can ignite that larger idea on paper, in a blog and hopefully as a published work later on. They are like little notes to myself sometimes. If only my spelling and editing skills were up to par. Yes there is always room for improvement. My very first published poems on other sites were the direct result of using Twitter as my own creative outlet and yes, cringe, a marketing tool. But hey, nobody is going to read your work if they don’t know about it or how to get to it.
So that is my story and I am sticking to it. Twitter has been a major reason my poetry has blossomed not only in exposure but a catalyst or rather inspiration for my love of writing. I have connected with some very extraordinary poets and writers because of Twitter. And I look forward to many more great connections. You can expect to see me on there for as long as it is a relevant and useful way to get exposure and grow as a writer. I expect it will be around for quite a few years.
And the Inspiration never ends.