I mean, I value having those kind of friends I have met offline as well. Of course I do. I have my best friends from school and childhood. My BFF in all the world, a woman I truly believe to be a soulmate type. We don’t see each other nearly enough, but life gets in the way, doesn’t it? I have my work friends whom I love. It’s not a deep and meaningful appreciation for student and academic admin that keeps me going back, believe. (Okay, some of it is the regular paycheque. This girl has a reasonably expensive Nespresso habit and a car loan).
But I also have my friends on Twitter. Likeminded, beautiful, strong-AF, hilarious, kind people who mean a lot to me. And that’s rather nice, because I think, as you get older, you get more picky about who you devote time to. You suffer fools less. You learn your worth. And Twitter, as vast as it is, can be pretty superficial in terms of interaction. You might have a little chat with someone, but there’s so much going on that it’s easy to forget. To not check in. To move on to the next thing. That person disappears into the ether. You refresh and they’re gone.
A few weeks ago, I went to Laura Pearson’s book launch party. It was delightful, for so many reasons. Her debut, Missing Pieces (Agora), is wonderful. A proper tear-jerker. Heavy subject matter, which I knew before I read it, and set in the town where I live, which had me intrigued. I love to be able to imagine the settings of the books I read — who doesn’t? And the fact the book is set in Southampton, and name checks the very place where I am gainfully employed, well, it made the book all the more special to me. Read her book, have tissues handy, but know it will leave you with a warm feeling.
Anyway, the book launch. I’ve never been to one, and I was thrilled to be invited. There was cake (and gin). Laura mingled, did a reading. I won’t forget the look of absolute pure love, admiration, pride, and joy on her husband’s face. Get you a partner who looks at you the way Laura’s husband looks at her. Truthfully, I got a bit emosh. I think we all did. Like I said, it was delightful.
And the other reason I was so excited to be there, was because those smart, beautiful, funny women I’m I spend so much time talking to, they were there, too! (Well, of course Laura was there! It was her book launch! Be a bit weird if she wasn’t.) And it didn’t feel like the first time we’d spent time in each other’s company either. We gossiped and talked about people we fancy (natch), and each other’s writing, and how things are going, and about how it was such a lovely thing to get together like that, under such happy circumstances. If you saw us, sitting around that table, you’d never know we’d never met before that day. We have a WhatsApp group now, and that’s sealed it. Fronds til the Ond.
I said that Twitter’s a vast place, but it can also feel small and cliquey, and sort of like you’re shouting at a room full of people, none of whom are really listening. You can feel as if you’re floating around, on the periphery of conversations, like walking into a place where everyone knows each other and you know exactly no one, and you have to have those awkward introductions time and time again until you stick with someone. Which is why finding people who are listening, who will shoo away the inevitable imposter syndrome that comes with writing, who will celebrate your achievements and send you gifs of delicious men when you’re feeling low or hormonal is a Very Cool Thing. That shit’s important. It buoys you up, it keeps you going.
So, I’m thankful to the people who invented the website with the little blue bird mascot, because we’d have probably never met otherwise, and I’m thankful for my tribe, and now I’m signing off, before this gets too mawkish and I start pulling a Gwyneth At The Oscars. Should probably get back to editing my book anyway.
But look at this, my little Twitter FamJam. BAMFs, the lot of us.