Yes, it’s another post about the wonder that is Twitter. Thinking about it lately, I’ve decided to list a few of the things you can use it for:

  1. Networking. Well, dur.
  2. Chat and conversation. When you follow a few people who regularly to chat to each other you a) get to join in and have a good old natter yourself and b) get treated to real entertainment. Some of the conversations that crop up are actually hilarious.
  3. Search. Want an opinion on something? Want news updates? Chances are you will find it on Twitter. Either search for a phrase / name / product to find out people’s opinions on it or just ask the question. Within a few minutes you’ll have a range of answers.
  4. REsearch. You can connect with so many different people, you can talk to someone in any country. For a writer this opens up huge possibilities  – check if a local idiom is right, what would x profession do in y case, etc etc etc.
  5. Professional support and knowledge base. There is always someone blogging about whatever sphere you’re working in and the Twitterverse share those links liberally. Excellent way to find blogs you didn’t know existed. Chances are that’s how you got here, so that’s my point proven.

But my personal favourite is for folks like me who are crippled by shyness – in real life that is. I don’t know about other shy people, but my biggest problem is communicating verbally in social situations. Either I freeze and can’t think of anything to say (and the moment is gone) or I trip over words as they stumble out, coming across as inept and inarticulate.

Twitter removes those barriers. In the first instance, the moment doesn’t generally go. Someone posts a status; you want to respond; you think of a response. Unlike a verbal exchange, which has to be pretty much instant, you can take your time. The original post is there if readers forget what you’re responding to so there isn’t the need for an immediate answer. You can select your words, and almost do away with that horrible feeling of “I wish I’d said that…”. You can even leave a conversation and come back in a while later. You give the excuse that you had to do something when really you were thinking of your witty and intelligent response. 😉

The other way Twitter helps people to overcome or at least manage shyness is a certain degree of anonymity. On the one hand you could be a raving axe-wielding lunatic for all your followers know, but on the other you can be more yourself than you can in real life. Without the problems of verbal diarrhoea, for instance, making you self-conscious, you relax and just say what you think. You form relationships based on shared interests, and know that people are talking to you because they genuinely want to hear what you have to say – there is very little comparable for a confidence boost.

I have twice met up with people I’ve met on Twitter (it would be more but poverty prevents trips to London or Edinburgh!) and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do that and have such lovely times without the rapport and conversation I found on Twitter first. I blogged a couple of times last year about how happy I felt going into my thirties, and how much more relaxed I felt about who I am – I hold Twitter directly responsible for a great deal of that.


Back in January I wrote a post about The Year I Turn Thirty. I talked about some of my thoughts about turning thirty and a kind of forecast for the year. Do pop over and have a look, it is (as you’d expect from me) extremely wise and witty. Ahem.

The Big Day is next week (all gifts and cards accepted, form an orderly queue) and to be honest, most of the expectations in that post are not far off. The biggest change has obviously been Emily’s birth – it seems very strange that I am revisiting a blog post written only  a few months ago yet Emily wasn’t anywhere near born. The experience of becoming a mother of two, by the way, was completely different from how I expected it to be. If you’re the parent of 2 or more kids, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a whole other blog post in itself.

One thing that is more or less how I expected is Daniel going off to nursery. I’m enjoying the mornings, although I’m still getting the hang of making the most of the time, and he is thriving amazingly well. He’s a clever, happy, confident little boy who I am very proud of. And Emily fits into our family perfectly – she really completes it. I have become more relaxed about some parts of parenting and more stressed about others. I’m probably as sleep-deprived as I expected, disappointingly!

As far as writing goes, tangible success isn’t yet mine – no book contracts, agents and publishers beating my door down, prize money and world recognition of my genius. But I am a different writer to what I was ten months ago. I’m more confident, I’m more willing to try stuff. I now have a respectable number of rejections under my belt, and a shortlisting in a competition (Writing Magazine, back in the spring. Yey!). I’ve been submitting my first work – a picture book that wasn’t even written when I did that post. I’ve got a novel in progress and am planning to attack NaNoWriMo with gusto, fun, and in the spirit it was intended. I have subscribers to my blog – yey you people! – and have tried cool things I never envisaged. I’m talking reviews, interviews, short stories. One month with well over 800 page views – that wasn’t even a dream in January! More importantly, I have made the most amazing friends, and chat with really inspirational people who are fast becoming heroes of mine. I’m not published, but I’m slowly gaining the confidence to think that one day I will be.

Personally, it’s not been the totally optimistic year I had hoped. When I wrote that blog post in January, my husband’s Grandad was feeling under the weather with shingles and had had a fairly miserable Christmas. By the end of February, he’d died and the following month we learned that his wife had cancer. A month later, I found out my own Grandpa had leukemia. They’re ok at the minute, just playing it step by step. It’s been hard in that respect, seeing people you love suffer in all sorts of ways. We’ve had some tough times ourselves in our immediate family unit too, although I think we’re out of those for now. We’ve had some real foundations put down in our faith too, which is stronger and more real than it’s ever been, and I know now as well what my vocation is. If you’re interested, look at Isaiah 65:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
…to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

…to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

I’m pretty much convinced that my long-term vocation is to care for people who are suffering, to reach out to them in love and comfort.

Anyway, now my birthday’s nearly here, I’m even more excited than I was then. I’m not having any pre-mid-life crisis or anything, quite the opposite. I’m actually relieved to be coming out of my twenties. I never fitted in as a twenty year old. I was never young or hip or fun or confident enough, and I always felt like I was trying too hard to fit in to that. As I approach 30, I’m growing into myself day by day, and feeling happier to be me than I’ve been since I was a child. So next week, I’m not celebrating presents, cards (although you will note I’m not turning them down. That would be silly.), balloons (yes, balloons, Husband of Mine, hint hint) but I’m celebrating being me. And, I almost forgot to mention, being four years married too! Do join me and raise a glass!