(82 characters, title included)

Midwestern Italics

“And just what are we supposed to do with a used gondola now?”



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Today marks the first installment of Twitterstories, a new feature on this blog. Every Sunday I will post a new short story in 140 characters or less. Sometimes the title will be included in the 140 character count. I will also include the number of characters used and whether or not the title is included in the character count.

For the record, since these stories are only 140 characters long, they do not fit within the confines of a traditional short story: beginning, middle, end, plot structure, character development, etc. Hopefully they meet my own criteria for what a short story can and should be: containing an element of narrative, and capturing the emotional state of a character in a given moment or situation.

That said, I hope you enjoy this feature.

 
 
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Starting this Sunday, Scribblings and Bibblings will have a new feature: Twitterstories. Every Sunday, I will feature a new, original short story, each 140 characters or less. Sometimes the title will count against the 140 characters, sometimes it won't. When it doesn't I will preface the story by claiming it doesn't. These will be reposted on my Twitter page, my Facebook page, and, based on demand, via an email notification for those wishing to be part of the email list.

Q: Will any of these stories have been previously published?
A: Possibly. I have had a couple of short shorts published, one of which (subtracting the title) would qualify as a Twitterstory.

Q: Do you have any Twitterstories that won't qualify for this project?
A: Only those that are currently submitted to publications. Once I receive a rejection for those stories, they are eligible to be Twitterstoried. If they are accepted, once they are published, they will be Twitterstoried.

Q: Will you be able to submit to any publications any Twitterstories that have appeared here?
A: I don't know. I'll have to read the fine print of each journal to make sure (and to ensure that I didn't agree to a Garden Gnome of the Month Club subscription).

Q: How did you come up with this idea? Do you think anyone will even care, or follow it?
A: I am currently reading Lydia Davis (some friends would say that I really never stop reading her, and they would be right), and some of her stories could count as Twitterstories. Since I keep experimenting with the shorter and shorter form (there you go again, sounding all self-important and literary, and taking this fake interview format a little too seriously), I thought it would be fun.
As for whether anyone will really care, or follow it? I hope so. They might be disappointed that some of the stories will be boring or make no sense, but I also hope that they'll stick around for the random times when it's good.

Q: How long will this experiment last?
A: Given my track record of follow through, probably one week.

Q: Why not a Twitterstory of the Day?
A: I'm not that prolific.

Q: Will you eventually run out of material and have to use other writers' micro-stories as filler?
A: No. Or, I should say, I hope not.

Q: Is this blog post announcing the new project really just a filler post so you can claim you're updating this on a more regular basis?
A: Shhhhhh.... you're given away all my secrets.

Q: Are---
A: You ask a lot of questions. Can I just finish this blog post?

...
...
...
...

Q: Are you going to eat that?
 
 
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Continuing my 2011 fascination with graphic novels, I read Gabrielle Bell's Lucky yesterday. Much has been written about her minimal cartooning style, her insights and lack of romanticism about life as a twenty-something artist in NYC, which paradoxically makes her work (and her) charming. Much has been made of her capturing the spirit of an entire generation and lifestyle of people, while still living that particular lifestyle. I will not do any of these in this unorthodox review, for it has been stated in many reviews.

Two quotes from the collection resonated with me the most,  especially in light of my own transition to living in the city. They also reflected two of my biggest loves--reading and running--and how my relationship with them has changed while living in the city:

"I tried reading, but for some reason I couldn't shake a feeling that reading is what one does only on the subway."

"I decided to go jogging instead. I often go jogging when I feel like I have no control over anything."

For insights like those, for cutting through the red tape of our brains much faster than any visit with a psychologist ever could, I'll choose Lucky.



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A little over a year ago, I posted my reading list for the year 2010. I did not make it through all those books. I did not even make through ten percent of those books. However, this is not a post about my failure to adhere to my reading list, or any list for that matter. But it did get me to thinking about the nature of goals and lists. Trying to read every book on our reading lists is a near-futile act: new books are going to constantly pop up that we are going to want to read.
Despite this reality, however, I still have a to-read list for the year 2011, which includes most of the holdovers from last year. And I will address that reading list (plus the nature of trying to choose what to read next) on a future post (perhaps the next one).
I have created a goals list for the year 2011, consisting of mostly writing, reading, and running goals, and that I share with you below.

1. To have a total of at least 10-12 stories published. I am presently awaiting publication of my 6th story; 4-6 to go.
2. Submit at least one story a week for publication.
3. Complete a dozen new stories, including three longer ones that have been nagging at me for quite some time.
4. Run a half-marathon, in preparation for running an actual marathon in 2012. (side question: should I also create a marathon training blog/online journal?)
5. Read 104 books: 2 books per week. This has since been modified to 52: one book per week.
6. At least two blog posts per week.
7. Complete and write critical reviews and interviews with Jim Shepard, Steve Almond, and Dan Chaon (authors I have contacted in the past who agreed to an online interview format.)
8. Read about half of the books from my 2010 reading list.
9. To write something every day. Lydia Davis said in an interview in Bomb Magazine: "In the meantime, I started doing these very short stories to break myself out of the rut of not writing or resisting writing. I told myself: You have to write two tiny stories every day. It didn’t matter how silly they were, I just had to finish two one-paragraph stories." I feel that same way. But, when writing those silly one-paragraph stories, I can at least say I'm writing.

What are your goals for 2011? How do you plan to reach them?