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Thoughts on the Bird App, and a November Update

A photo of yellow and red oak trees against a blue sky, with the pointed roof of a white garage in the foreground

(Apologies in advance for the lengthy post, I guess I had some THOUGHTS.)

Well, it’s really a strange time to be a Writer Who Is Online, isn’t it?

Most days nowadays are strange, to be sure. But for those of us who found our writing feet on the bird app, as well as a network of like-minded people all struggling in the writing/revising/querying/despairing trenches, it’s hard to watch Twitter get chewed up and spit out by someone who doesn’t give a crap about anyone but himself.

There are so many communities who use Twitter as a literal lifeline, and all of that could be destroyed because of the whims of a man-child.

(Side-note: I’m really tired of our lives being dictated by the whims of man-children.)

I joined Twitter wayyy back in the before times, in ye olde 2013, when I was desperately looking for ways to procrastinate doing my dissertation. I stumbled into writer twitter as I realized I could follow my favorite authors online. (What a concept!) And from there I found my way into a magical world of writers and book-lovers and storytellers, all while writing my first novel when I was living in Scotland.

A close up photo of a blade of green grass with droplets of dew resting on it

Through my hours of scrolling, I learned the difference between plotting and pantsing, what a literary agent is, what a query letter is and how to write one, and all those terms and acronyms that we throw around like alphabet confetti, but make no sense to non-writers. I felt like I had finally found a way into the cool kids club and was learning the rules to the game, and that’s when I started fostering naive dreams of maybe, someday, hypothetically getting my book published.

I found writing blogs and then found writing buddies, who have since become really good friends. I found beta readers and CPs, and got matched with others after joining my first pitch contests on Twitter. PitchWars, RevPit, AMM, PitMad, PitDark, all those amazing (though admittedly not perfect) programs that brought writers together and helped us hone our craft and grow our networks.

I also learned how the publishing landscape has shifted so much because of social media, to the point where authors are now expected to do basically all of their own marketing online, and it’s a crapshoot whether you’ll get publicity or marketing support from your (overworked and underpaid) publishing team.

A photo of a tree with bright orange and red foliage against a blue sky

Even established writers who have hit list and have tens of thousands of followers across multiple platforms have spoken out about this issue, so what does that mean for those of us who aren’t even in the game yet? Who are still trying to get an agent for pete’s sake? What will the publishing landscape be like in 3, 5, ten years even? (Hell, what will the world be like then, if it’s even still around?) And I’m worrying about this as an incredibly privileged cis white lady! What about marginalized people who were already being ignored or mistreated by publishing gatekeepers, let alone by the algorithms that control so much of our lives online?

The win for the government in the PRH/S&S trial is a glimmer of hope, as is the Harper Collins Union strike going on now, but there’s still a scarily long way to go for any real tangible progress to be made, or felt, for all those over-stretched managers and burnt-out editors and frazzled agents, right on down the chain to anxious (and increasingly despairing) writers.

I don’t have any answers, but man it’s really a kick to the gut to watch one of the few platforms where we could even TRY to have a platform being hollowed out by the minute. I don’t have a massive follower count, but I really value the friends and followers I’ve interacted with over the years. Will we still be able to support each other in other places online? I’m not sure. Twitter is special in that regard, despite all its weirdness over the last few years.

And on a tiny, petty, selfish note, I’m kinda sad I might never get to post one of those 👀~VAGUE PUBLISHING TWEETS~👀 or even (someday) my book deal announcement. Those always looked really fun!

I wish I had answers. For now, I’ll forever be grateful to Twitter for making me the writer I am today, and for broadening my horizons—not just with the world of writing and books, but also in the realms of politics, science, climate change, disability justice, psychology, museums/heritage, and more. Not to mention all those amazing artists I’ve loved supporting, and all those cute animals that brightened my day. I’ve learned so much from Twitter, and I’ll never be able to thank or repay everyone whose threads blew my mind and expanded my worldview, although I wish I could.

Ok, to lighten the mood, there were also some incredible shitposts that make me cackle out loud every time I see them, or think of them, as some of them are burned into my brain now. That quick, dry, absurd Twitter humor is hard to beat. Here’s a tribute to some of my favs:

But now it looks like Elongated Muskrat is selling it off for parts, and it sucks. Was Twitter perfect? Hell no. Was it a tool of white supremacy and the rising fascism that’s now threatening everything? Yes, unfortunately. But a lot of good also came from it, so I guess I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that.

It’s a really weird time on the timeline right now, akin to the Titanic going down and everyone scrambling (or not) for the exits. Every day I wake up and wait to see if Twitter will open or not.

Some tips I saw to protect yourself and your account going forward:

I’ll wait around to see what happens, again with the naive hope that somehow it’ll keep chugging along with new and BETTER leadership very soon (one can only hope). I don’t want to give up on it for several reasons, the first being that that’s what the bad guys want, for everyone to give up. The second is that a lot of marginalized communities are still hanging on and using it because it’s their main way to communicate and spread information, and I want to help share their work if I can. And thirdly, because I am an older millennial, I cannot be arsed to learn a new social media platform in this day and age.

I’m already wary of TikTok, and bad at Instagram, and I lurk intermittently on Tumblr, so that’s enough for me right now. I also don’t really trust the other companies popping up to replace Twitter, since I feel like they will be capitalizing on people’s desperation…?

Again, is Twitter good, on balance? Maybe not, but I’d like to hope so. Right now, I’m not giving up on it just yet.

A photo of a pizza splattered on a sidewalk
A Sidewalk Tragedy: or, A Photographic Representation of How Eloser Muskloser Has Handled All of This

A Brief November Update

So life has been tough lately. My grandfather died really suddenly and honestly quite traumatically, and it’s been really hard dealing with that. I was lucky enough to fly back for his funeral, and it was a really lovely service for him. I’m glad I got to reconnect with a lot of extended family too, despite the awful circumstances.

To honor him, I’m going to make his famous spinach ravioli recipe, all from scratch, which we used to make together every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving. We’d make hundreds of them, because my grandpa never did anything by halves. I’ll be making a lot fewer, but I’m so excited to try and make them myself, since we now have enough room in our new place.

Side-by-side comparison of the same oak tree against a blue sky. The left image shows it in autumn with orange leaves, the right image shows it in summer with green leaves.
Please enjoy this slightly fuzzy side-by-side I made when I realized I took pics of the same oak tree about two months apart. I really love New England fall foliage.

My rewrite of RavenBook has stalled, since my brain has been in the bad place. But I’m hoping to get some momentum going again soon so I can finish it, and then maybe I can finally start sending out queries again in the new year.

I hope you’re all hanging in there, and if you’re doing NaNo I salute you! Let me know how your projects are going, or what you’ve been reading/watching/listening to lately.

Thanks, as always, for reading ❤

~M

Things I’ve Been Loving Recently

🍂 Some favorite reads for autumn! 🍂

6 responses to “Thoughts on the Bird App, and a November Update”

  1. Great post. I think you hit the nail on the head with your comments about Twitter. It may have been a hellsite but it was still an important community hub. It’s really awful to watch it get taken apart like this—despite my thoughts last month on how it contributed to my burnout, I’m still grieving this loss of community.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhhh, I loved this post so much, Meredith! I just love reading your blog so much, honestly, and love your style, with the pictures interspersed. You nailed the HEAD on the Twitter situation. I have such complicated feelings about it, too! (Do you listen to Print Run podcast? Their latest episode was really good about that and the strike.)

    I love you, I adore you, I believe in you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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