Monday, 29 April 2013

Learning to be a Twit, Part 2

One day, back when I was far from taking my first steps to become a Twit, I had a bright idea. Advertisers could use TV, social media and radio to raise awareness of a product before it was sold, and I could, too. I'd written a novel, so why couldn't I promote it before selling it? 'Simples!' as my favourite meerkat Aleksandr Orlov would say. Or so I thought.

I opened my Twitter account, but found myself selling air to the world. No problem. Since everyone in the UK talks about the weather, I Would Tweet About the Weather.

I shouldn't have been surprised when two followers tweeting about a missing cock showed up. I wondered why they didn't look at weathervanes or in supermarkets, but was too polite to ask. A day later, and they were still there, with the same message. Another day came and two kids followed me. Little ones. I was sure they were under ten years old. I was horrified, but too polite to shoo them off Twitter. Then I consoled myself. Those two kids wrote about random things, football and TV shows, not chickens. With 1200 followers, they were savvy and knew more than me. I tweeted about what was on the telly that night.

I felt quite silly afterwards. I was supposed to be a writer, but I wasn't using words. Since part of my novel was set in China, I thought that having English and Chinese in each tweet would be a great gimmick. If I used inspirational quotes from ancient Chinese texts, my tweets could be educational, inspirational, and give a clue about my novel. The snag was that with 140 characters, only some Chinese idioms could be translated and tweeted.

Yet it worked. One follower showed up, then two, then more. And as I got to know my followers, I realised that my novel wasn't ready because I wasn't ready. I was neither naturally funny nor inspiring like those first followers, including the two kids (who ditched me once they realised this, the cheeky little so-and-sos). @JSCENT36 copes with autism by expertly tap-dancing to urban music. @Awwwpics is much funnier than me, and @jengroover has a life that is a giant inspirational quote in itself. @Tori_Intense, @rbourey2, @ht46 and @timmydavis7 are very nice (I sincerely believe that they should write something on Twitter etiquette), and as for selling a product, @Tilleyliliane and @TabelinaInc sell lovely retro t-shirts and jewellery. 

Most importantly, unlike @TraceyH_68, @ScoShortStories and @keshavatech, who very clearly know who they are, I didn't know who I was as a writer. After my first month of tweeting, I knew that if I released my first novel and communicated in a certain way, I'd be pigeonholed into a genre like 'Westernised-East-Asian-Chinese-Roman-Catholic-Identity-Crisis-Misery-Guts Memoir'. And I don't want that.

I want to tell stories to a wide audience and thanks to Twitter, I'd achieved what I set out to to, which was reach a wide audience. I therefore have to write in as many genres as I can and make my writing appropriate for as many people as I can. With that in mind, I began another novel, a London-based sci-fi with a twist that I thought of years ago as a screenplay. Once that one's out of the way, then I'll go back to my first novel.

The new look of my website came about because I wanted and needed more colours, pages, tabs and links to other blogs. This will mean that my site will end up looking radically different from before, but the content, however, will not change. I like to think that this ever-changing look of my site but constant content is a reflection of how I'll keep developing as a writer.

I think I am getting there as a Twit. Stay tuned!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Learning to be a Twit, Part 1

I decided to become a twit after hearing a lot about Twitter being used for self-promotion. Now that a month's come and gone, I feel I have enough to post some of my thoughts. Here's Part One!

In real life, I'm admittedly not much of a people person, but when it comes to interactions, I am definitely a fan of F2F meetings. I don't like Facebook, and only ever use email and my phone when I have to. I actually find it easier to approach people and talk to them directly.

With Twitter, I discovered that to contact people, I'd need to follow them, but seriously, it's hard work to follow 160 people! Some post so much information that it blows your mind away, so I had to drop some of them and in turn, they dropped me. I can't blame them :-).

On the plus side, I met so many lovely and interesting people I would never otherwise have had the chance to meet. From @kathrynssedoga, for example, I learnt about the Canadian First Nations and the power of using something like Twitter to raise awareness of important social issues. From indie writers like @vgrefer, @armandauthor, @jackcroxall and @SDSouthard, I am gaining a feel as to where the publishing and writing industry is going. I even get to listen to music as it's being made, thanks to musicians like @DJStyle, @shaunaburns, @AESPiano, @RedRockIt and @JasonAppleApari. And some of the 'slebs I admire and respect seem that much more 3D, too. I had never imagined that @therealgokwan is not just a clothes horse manager, but someone who would campaign for Legal Aid in the UK to be kept, or that @twhiddleston really cares about the fact that Female Genital Mutilation and hunger still exist in Africa. Neither did I imagine that @SnoopDogg is a real genius comedian. He brightens my day.

And I'm also indulging in my language-learning in earnest, especially when tweeps (see, even my vocabulary has expanded) like @franckwerle tweet in their native languages. On the other hand, I would dearly love to know what @LeraNayanova, @ULTFOMS, @DegtyaryRu and @portablejbrjapa are tweeting...

Those are my thoughts on Twitter so far; I'll definitely stick on to see where being a twit will get me next! Have a nice Monday!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

A Qingming Joke :-)

Today is the Qingming Festival 清明节, aka Tomb-Sweeping Day.

With the advent of new technology, someone called Clover Ngau has seen the funny side of what is normally a solemn, Chinese version of the Catholic All Souls Day or Mexican Day of the Dead.

I just had to reproduce Clover's original joke (or perhaps it's a true story) in Chinese with my translation into English because it deserves a wider audience.

清明节到了,我去买祭品,看到既然有扎的iPhone,我问老板酱先进,祖宗会不会用?他说Steve Jobs都亲自下去教了,担心什么?
Qingming had arrived. I went to buy paper offerings for my dead relatives, and came across some paper iphones. I discussed how advanced technology had become with the shopkeeper, and asked the shopkeeper how could he know if my ancestors knew how to use iphones, and he replied, 'Steve Jobs has already made his way to the World Below to teach them personally, so why are you worried?'

我选了一个,刚要转身走时; So I picked a paper iphone, and was about to leave, when -

老板:买手机套吧,不然容易割花.
Shopkeeper: Get a case for it, or else it'll get scratched.
我:好
Me: Sure.

老板:买个蓝牙耳机吧,最近下面有新的交通规矩,开车打电话抓得严.
Shopkeeper: Go on, get a Bluetooth earpiece too. The World Below has recently introduced new traffic rules, and you can't drive and use a mobile phone at the same time anymore.
我:好…
Me: Good point...

老板:最重要还要买充电器啊,不然电话没电时,祖宗找你要充电器就不好了,只是找你要还是小事,叫你送下去就麻烦了.
Shopkeeper: Don't forget the most important thing - a charger, because if the iphone runs out of juice, your ancestors won't be too pleased. Them coming back to look you up will be the least of your worries, because you'll be in big trouble if they ask you to personally go down to the World Below to replace it.

我:好…顺便你的名片也给我一张.
Me: All right... give me one of your business cards.
老板:要我名片干嘛?
Shopkeeper: What do you want my business card for?
我:一起烧给祖宗啊,他们东西有什么坏了可以直接找你修!
Me: I'm going to burn it with all my paper offerings. If the things you sold me don't work, my ancestors can come and look you up themselves!