Thursday, January 21, 2016

Twitter, the NYT, my son, and me

An astonishing thing happened yesterday evening.

My son followed me on Twitter.

My children are 18 and 21 now. From their vantage point, my attempts at social media are cute, the way their 3-year-old cousin Dewey calling me "Uncle Kim" is cute, or their baby cousin Fred's attempts to pronounce anything are cute. Oh look, she's trying to social media. Isn't that cute?

My son left for college right around the time I got a Twitter account. He refused to follow me on philosophical grounds: I misused the language (I still tend to say that I sent a "twitt."). Also he didn't enjoy the random twitter conversations I tend to get into about 17th century fashion or aviation or, yesterday, taxation here and abroad. Also he already reads my blog. (Many of my twitter posts are links to my blog.)

It became a running joke between us. "I'm up to 147 followers," I'd say. "You're missing out."

"Yeah, I've got, like, twice that," he'd say.

"That's because you're in college."

"It's because you don't need Twitter."

"I'm excellent at Twitter. And soon I'm going to get a selfie stick."

"The last thing you need is a selfie stick."

My son is in London this semester. I'm loving technology, because FaceTime Audio means I get to talk to him cheap, which translates to often. We can text each other, too.

Before the ALA media awards were announced, a week and a half ago, he sent me a message, "Win the Newbery and I'll follow you on Twitter." When I won an Honor, I suggested it was Good Enough. He declined. "Go big or go home," he said. (He's going to deny saying that. I'm pretty sure he said something like it, at any rate. What can I say? I'm a novelist, I make things up.)

Last night we were hunkering down for a snug night in front of a fire. It was snowing out, hard, which is rare in our parts, and I made chili and cornbread for dinner. It was still simmering and I was on the couch with a book when my husband, checking our joint email, read aloud, "Number 6 on the New York Times Bestseller List."

"What?" I said. He read it again. I jumped up, saying, "You're joking. You'd better not be joking! That would not. Be. Funny," but by then I could read it for myself. It was an email from my editor, announcing that The War That Saved My Life would debut at #6 on the January 31st edition of the list.

New York Times Bestselling Author. I like it.

I'd already spoken to my son, and even though it was late in London knew he planned to stay up to watch the Notre Dame basketball game. I texted him the news. Ten seconds later, my phone dinged. I had a new twitter follower: my son.

Yeah, in my family we know how to celebrate. And as soon as this snow clears, I'm gonna buy me a selfie stick.