Innovation online

Whenever I teach writing, there's always a section I come to with a little concern because I know there'll be a stark divide in the reaction of the group, and quite often some hostility.

It's the part about the online world.

I like experimenting, trying something new, innovating, however scary that can be (what's the playground of life for, otherwise?), so I've done my best to take to this new fangled internet thing.

I've come to enjoy it, but I know many writers don't see it as anything useful, helpful or in any way pleasant, instead more of a chore.

I think the argument is simple - publishers and agents expect writers to be online these days, so we don't actually have a great deal of choice.

And they've got a point - the net can be powerful free marketing and advertisting, and a great way of finding new readers and talking to them.

On the subject of which, I've recently done my first Twitter chat, as a guest of the wonderful Swanwick Writers' Summer School. 

It was only an hour and wow, did it zip past. I was deluged with questions - some even from America - all thoughtful and of a high standard, and very much enjoyed the evening.

Tweets like - "What's the most surprising thing you've learnt by becoming a novelist?" and many others certainly got me thinking, and in only 140 characters, too.

If you're interested in the chat, this is how it went -

I confess to being unsure how I'd feel about my first Twitter chat, but came away lifted by it.

I'm one of those terribly old fashioned people who prefers to have conversations in the hideously archaic face to face way.

Which I know is many people's concern about the net - the erosion of that basic human interaction. But I've come to see it as just another tool to help writers in their work, however amazingly high-tech.

And if it means even more people, from all over the world, can come together to share their love of writing, it can't be such a bad thing.