Rebecca Woodhead is Ms Twitter UK thanks to Word Nerd Army!


We did it!! Thanks to all the wonderful word-people who've supported me. My own personal goals aside, the random collection of supporters who became known as my Word Nerd Army have taught me so much about the industry over the last few weeks.

From people who work in libraries to people who advise the government on library policy to publishers, teachers, readers and retailers, I've been able to pull together different stories of the book community and come up with a list of ideas that we broadly agree upon. If anything comes out of my being Ms Twitter, I hope it will be that bloggers will pick whichever of these inspire them and will blog and tweet them into the limelight. These are the issues that matter to the people who helped me to become Ms Twitter UK:
  1. Millions of people don't read, because they can't read. More money needs to go into schemes to give word skills and confidence.
  2. Millions of people don't read, because they are not inclined to read. Being a 'word nerd' needs to be seen as a good thing.
  3. Libraries are variously under-funded or under-attended. More effort needs to go into reconnecting societies with libraries.
  4. Many people are not aware of the benefits of using libraries during a recession. Free books, cheap DVDs & music, free net access etc.
  5. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a pin-up. There is everything wrong with thinking that is your only option. Choice is crucial.
  6. Men and women can work together towards a common goal - as can different cultures - on twitter. Twitter has a positive part to play.
  7. The online book community is very motivated & incredibly supportive of new & established talent. Reading and writing are solitary activities. Twitter brings in a social element regardless of location or physical mobility.
  8. Illness, bad fortune and/or poverty need not be a significant barrier to success. Web 2.0 can re-enable people facing hardship.
  9. Books give you access to great minds.
  10. Stories are important.
  11. A large number of people in UK prisons (around 3 in 5 according to one prison librarian) have reading problems or dyslexia. There needs to be research into the connection between difficulties with literacy and eventual crime to help people before they resort to crime. Access to good help with reading and communication difficulties needs to be a priority. Wouldn't it be great if by addressing this issue, we could build more libraries and fewer prisons?

Point 11 is a big issue and we, as a group, didn't have the necessary information to suggest anything. It may be coincidence but it's got to be worth a look.

Sorry about the third-person-ness of the heading - I'm not being a diva, I'm just aware google likes it and want people to see the points above.

Thanks again everyone. So glad it's over. If anyone's scratching their head and thinking 'but you're in the Europe contest representing the UK next' read the previous post. I'm hanging up my sash after this.

Rebecca - Ms Twitter UK (*hee hee*)

Agnieszkas Shoes  – (4 August 2009 16:12)  

Rebecca, I would endorse all your points. Hell, the fact they go up to 11 further endorses your Tap-tastic cred.

I would like to add my support to a few points in particular. First up, the need for access to literature, and passion for words; second the idea that being a writer is something great to aspire to (and something achievable) - these are amongst the primary reasons why I set up the Free-e-day festival (www.freeeday.wordpress.com). And third, you point about the barriers of illness and bad fortune. As someone who's had a mental health disability stretching back over a decade, I know all too well how many doors illness and bad fortune DO close. Success as a writer needn't be one of them. But we do need role models (I've always tried to be one, you do it so much better :-)) to show you can succeed, and that whilst they are alwasy present, you don't have to be defined by your illness or ill-forune (may I plug my wife's wonderful post on this (http://violamaths.blogspot.com/2009/07/on-being-bit-bonkers.html); and we need to continue widening access to readers for talented writers from any and every background.

Keep fighting the fight!
Dan
www.danholloway.wordpress.com

Angie Ledbetter  – (4 August 2009 17:43)  

Long live the pen (since its beauty lasts longer than the pin-up's anyway). Congratulations to you and for your hard work paying off.

Lexx  – (4 August 2009 18:44)  

Thank you for this, point 11 is a massive issue, speaking from a mental health perspective the issue is just as tragic. The proportion of prisoners with mental health problems is something in the region of twice that of the general population. Add literacy and numeracy problems to the equation and you see a group of people forgotten and unaided, unable to escape their circumsrances.

Rebecca Woodhead  – (4 August 2009 20:29)  

What great comments! I have lots on twitter too, so I think I distilled the general feelings over the last few weeks OK.

I would have liked to add a 12th point about helping people who've had left-brain damage. One of the other writers on twitter has had injuries in the same location as me brain-wise and though they were much less severe, he had similar types of problems. Interestingly, we both used similar tactics to handle maths and we're both fast haiku writers.

In the end I thought it was best not to put it up as it's so specific and only representative of a couple of us rather than the 'Word Nerd Army' as a whole. Also, it kind of goes in with the illness and misfortune thing.

The whole anti-me campaign started up again when fans of The Saturdays saw me on the Continental competition page (have asked to be removed but it hasn't happened yet). The people starting it off again were the same who started it in the first place so I tweeted them. Long story short, we ended up talking books and Sats lyrics and peace broke out. How long it lasts is another question but 'peace talks' take a while. If there are breakdowns in communication from time to time I'm sure we'll sort it out in the end.

Turns out The Saturdays have some good lyrics. :)

Well, that's all for now. Oh.. except.. media people DMed me. Sent them over here so be on your best behaviour.

Toodles!

Ms Twitter UK x (how many days will I get away with that d'you think?) ;)

Eric  – (5 August 2009 18:06)  

Rebecca, I'm so sorry. I'm late in my congratulations. Here I was watching all along, and now I've missed the moment of triumph. Well, I hope you're still basking in the glow anyway. This is a nice list though, and I hope alot of people pay attention. Most importantly though, I hope all this attention helps you get the recognition and publication that you deserve.

Rebecca Woodhead  – (6 August 2009 13:25)  

Hi Eric. I'm so happy to be back in my little Blogger home. I don't want the twitter campaign or the Word Nerd Army thing to overwhelm this blog so I've put up another one for that side of life. It's called http://WordNerdArmy.blogspot.com and I'm happy for writers to plug their own blogs on it in the comment section. Would love it if you'd toodle across and cast an eye over it.

Only want nice people there. Will block all others. Want it to be a nice place to talk about ways to help with literacy, libraries and the book industry in general. I'm struggling with the format but I think it might be a similar template to the one Brian uses so I'm sure he'll help me if I come completely unstuck!

Actually, let Brian know if you bump into him as I'm sure he'll have some ideas about these points.

Thanks for the comments and support xxx

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