Saturday, 18 February 2012

I Was Virtually There...

I had a new and peculiar experience today…conference by Twitter!

After narrowly missing out on the Writers and Artists conference last year, I was looking forward to attending this year’s event and soaking up the wealth of advice and knowledge on offer. 

Unfortunately, another financial commitment (also known as, ahem, a deposit for another trip to Walt Disney World) has once again stood in my way and it’s with a heavy heart that I woke up today, knowing I would be missing out on the day’s event.

Or would I?  After starting my day in the usual way (i.e. immediately checking my Twitter feed to catch up on the overnight news), I noticed that there would be a near-to live feed from the conference. 

Fast forward a few hours and I can honestly say I’ve had a more rewarding time on the internet today than I had any right to expect from a random Saturday afternoon.

Thanks to the live tweeting of the Writers and Artists Yearbook account itself (@Writers_Artists) and to the even more comprehensive - and lightning fast! -  tweets from literary agent Carole Blake (@caroleagent), I have page upon page on notes full of the kind of advice and information I had feared I would miss out on completely.  I’ve been sitting glued to my computer for most of the day, pen and paper at the ready, taking notes as if I’m actually there (though the sitting around in my pyjamas with husband bringing me drinks does somewhat shatter the illusion!)

Of course nothing comes close to being there in person, but if nothing else a live Twitter feed is a savvy marketing tool – did I find the tweets useful?  Absolutely.  Will I miss the next conference?  Absolutely not.  One of the fears I associate with events of this nature is the cost versus benefit debate.  Will it be useful?  Will I learn anything?  Is it worth the long journey?  Just from seeing the Twitter updates I can answer yes to all of those questions.

Benefits aside, it’s also been a genuinely enjoyable and interesting day (and arguably a refreshing change from my usual celebrity-stalking activities on Twitter!).  The information coming through is compelling, the advice invaluable, and it’s an entire Twitter feed of usefulness.  What more could you ask for?

I particularly enjoyed some of Barbara Trapido’s comments on the writing process – “plots drop onto the page like presents from above” is a particularly freeing notion and I intend to embark on this evening’s writing with that thought burned into my mind.  

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