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I’m toasting with Diet Coke

New Year's Eve Toast

On the last day of the year, thinking about all the significant events of the last twelve months, I realised that one of the best things about my 2010 has been Artwiculate. I would like to propose a New Year's toast to Artwiculate and it's creators and to say thanks for all the fun this year.

In April I visited my brother in hospital. He told me about an online word game he was thoroughly enjoying that was making his protracted stay more bearable. The stimulation of the daily challenge and the camaraderie with his fellow players (they had even created and signed a 'virtual cast' to cheer him up) had kept his spirits up. (He was also, I later realised, as high as a kite on morphine but at the time I took his ebullience to be a powerful recommendation for Artwiculate.) I signed up to Twitter almost immediately. I've hardly missed a word since.

Artwiculate promises to be a game 'that helps clever people look clever and helps the rest of us learn new words.' It certainly does this. I love learning the new words and moreover I love spending a whole day cogitating on layers of meaning even if the word is familiar. Obviously, thinking about words means thinking about ideas and each Artwiculate day focuses a little lexical spotlight on some corner of the world of ideas. During the day, while most of my brain is busy with work and family, a part of it gets to play with the big questions (in tiny pieces, of course). And sometimes 140 characters is all the philosophy I can manage.

And those clever people looking clever? I don't think a day has gone by when I haven't read an Artwiculate tweet that has made me laugh out loud, look up something I've never heard of or feel genuinely moved. I delight in the breadth of creativity and perspective from this bunch of disparate souls with nothing in common but our love of words. It is always a pleasure to read through the day's entries, voting blind and trying to guess the authors of my favourite tweets.

But Artwiculate has given me so much more. When we talk about words, we can't help but reveal ourselves and word play has become the springboard for so many silly or significant conversations. I have met witty, wise, generous, thoughtful new friends playing this game. Our common interest in language drew us together but now the relationships are bigger than words. I've read books based on their recommendations, conducted lessons based on their tweets, enjoyed their emails and videos and received gifts for myself and my children. I have formed a wonderful friendship with someone who lives 10 minutes away but who, without Artwiculate, I would never have met. I've even managed some much-missed verbal shenanigans with my own family. And I've been lucky enough to watch other relationships develop all over the world between fellow players, Let's face it, we're at one engagement and counting.

So please charge your glasses and join me in a toast to Artwiculate, her creators and participants, far and wide. In 2010 we have bloviated and bamboozled, we've been libertine, lachrymose and lackadaisical and we've guffawed at grandiloquence and gravitas. All in all, a good time was had by all. Let's drink to a 2011 that is at the very least bedazzled and always artwiculate.