Today marks the beginning of a new phase of the Twitterstory: audience participation.
After A Little Soul was released, a friend read the book and decided to have some fun both at my expense and with my cooperation. "Let's see you write a Twitterstory about mayonnaise... in two minutes." Condimental was the result of this challenge. Frustrated and intrigued, she continued to hurl words to me, and I would attempt to write a story with them, with varying degrees of failure and success.
But now I call on you, dear readers, to be active participants in the Twitterstory project: provide a word in the comments below, in an email with the subject "Twitterstory word", through the many social media outlets I utilize (Twitter with the hashtag #TwitterstoryWord; my Facebook page; LinkedIn; Fictionaut); or via carrier pigeon, smoke flares, or Pony Express, and I will write a Twitterstory using that word. You will also receive credit in all the media forums where the story is posted.
A few parameters to avoid confusion:
1. No word is off-limits except indefinite and definite articles (a, an, the).
2. If the same word is provided more than once by different people, that many stories will have to be written.
3. There is no limit for how many words one person can provide.
4. Stories will still be posted once a week.
5. If you have a website or any social media page you want me to link to when the story with your word is posted, please let me know.The first installation of the audience participation Twitterstory is below. The word was "weeping willow." It was provided by Erica Dorsey, the same person mentioned in the mayonnaise anecdote above.As always, thank you.
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(character count: 146; without title: 132Weeping WillowShe lay down, wishing its branches were hands, pushing her down
to the roots. There, she could start over.
Part of my intention of starting this blog was to get people interested in my writing, as a means of ensuring my work reached a wider audience.In an act of shameless self-promotion, I have decided to take my published stories and reprint them here (so long as the rights have reverted to me). For those who have been so gracious as to have read them already, please feel free to forward the link to others and help spur on my hopefully burgeoning literary career. I will be sure to thank you in my Nobel speech, or at least post "Thank you so much!" on your Facebook page. For those who have not read this story and enjoy it, please feel free to travel to the Fiction page and seek out those other stories I have been fortunate enough to have published. (Quick note to prospective writers looking to get published in online publications: editors do respond to overstuffed envelopes of unmarked, non-consecutive 100 dollar bills.) This story originally appeared in Opium Magazine in October 2008, and then again in December 2008 when it inexplicably disappeared from their archives.As always, enjoy.Height: 6’ ½”. Weight: 183. Age: never mind.
Number of bowls of cereal I’ve eaten: 893. Number of times I’ve smoked weed: 428.
Number of times I’ve stuck my tongue into an electrical socket: 5.
Number of times I’ve contemplated murder: 562.
Number of cups of coffee I’ve drank: 18,952.
Number of times I’ve shaved: 3,804.
Number of times I’ve brushed my teeth: 32,412.
Number of times I’ve washed my hair: 11,789. Number of cigarettes I’ve smoked: 167,475 ¼. Lucky number: 13. Number of times I’ve burned my fingers: 14. Number of times I’ve stapled my fingers: 6. Number of beers I’ve drank: 10,863.
Number of books I’ve read: 1,516. Number of times this will be compared to the Harper’s Review: 1,309.
Number of CD’s I owned: 716. Number of books I owned: 506. Number of films: 16. Number of keys on my last key ring: 34. Number of keys that I knew what they went to: 23. Number of keys that belonged to my stuff: 3.
Number of times I crashed a car: 8. Number of cars I stole: 103.
Number of cigars I smoked: 43. Number of hamburgers I’ve eaten: 6. Number of French fries: ???,???,???,???.
Number of times I’ve slept on the couch: 301. Number of times I’ve slept on the street: 36.
Number of times had sex on a couch: 75. Number of times I’ve had sex in the shower: 57. Number of times had sex: 892. Number of times I’ve been married: 4. Outside of Vegas: 2. Number of kids: 1… I think. Number of times I committed adultery: 16. Number of times divorced: 3; my fourth wife disappeared.
Number of times I’ve contemplated murder: 569. Number of times I’ve driven across country: 5. Number of times I’ve been on a train, not counting subways: 338.
Number of times I’ve lost a watch: 13. Number of times I’ve been in a fight: 83. Number of times I’ve been arrested: 26.
Number of times I’ve masturbated: 15,337. Number of times I’ve masturbated to Mary Tyler Moore: 534. Number of times I’ve gone skinny dipping: 17.
Number of times I’ve blown up a mailbox: 9 ½.
Number of times I’ve played chess: 1,389. Number of times I played chess before I got here: 189. Number of times I’ve watched the Super Bowl: XXIII. Number of times I’ve won the lottery: 3. Number of times I collected the money: 2.
Number of times I’ve held a gun: 8,906.
Number of times I’ve carried a briefcase: 16,902.
Number of letters in the longest word I know: 45 (pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis: written on the blackboard in my 8th grade English class. Don’t believe me? Count the letters yourself.).
Number of times I’ve ridden a bike: 1,936. Number of times I put baseball cards in the spokes: 58. Number of times I’ve ridden a roller coaster: 85. Number of pets I’ve had: 23. Number of dogs: 13. Number of times I’ve eaten a dog biscuit: 59. Number of times I’ve licked a battery: 35. Number of bikes I’ve stolen: 45. Number of times the spokes were removed in my bike wheels: 5. Number of times I knew who did it: 3.
Number of times Arnold Carson, the fat-assed kid I grew up with, beat me up: 86. Number of times I beat him up: 1. Number of times he beat me up, anyone beat me up, after that: zero. Number of times I’ve contemplated murder: 578. Number of times I’ve committed murder: 2. Number of times the government let me kill someone: at least 150. Number of languages I speak: 6. Number of times I’ve flown in an airplane: 308. Number of times I’ve flown out of the country: 216. Number of countries I’ve visited: 89. On vacation: 3. Number of Nobel Prizes I will win, one for peace, the other an as yet formed prize for being great: 2. Number of years I have left in here: 7 … or life.
Many writers--at least those who have not had any form of success and keep their writing exclusively to the confines of their moleskine notebook or in reams of marked-up typewritten paper in a drawer, writing that has never seen another person's eyes except perhaps their bedraggled spouse's and even then perhaps not because the writer isn't confident enough to show it to them--have a certain nagging superstition, or a massive insecurity in their head. (Clearly, they have more than just this one forthcoming insecurity, or else they would feel free to show their work to even their spouse, but that's a different discussion and I've dragged on this topical sentence as long as I can. I have to get to the point eventually, or this threatens to become the Tristram Shandy of blog posts.)
That one superstition is that if they tell an idea to someone before they have a chance to finish it, that idea will either a) lose all potency and will not be pursued, or b) more nefariously, their idea will be stolen by someone else. Neither idea evokes much trust in humanity and the helping nature of people. These are clearly not the writers who would ever join a writer's group or even enroll in an MFA program. For that matter, they would never apply to an MFA program where their unfinished ideas have to be shared with others all the time.
I mention this because I feel I am about to violate this one major superstition. But since it is a belief I no longer have (I did at one point, years and years and years ago, in high school, and for a few brief insecure moments in undergrad where I probably trying to engender a mysterious and sensitive persona) I will share my ideas with the public, or the public I imagine that reads this blog. (all three of you.)
Some may remember that a few months back I experimented with the idea of writing an essay chronicling what goes through my head when I go running. The essay would be written in the latter-day David Markson style: pastiche, omnidirectional, collage-like, almost like an anti-novel told in Tweets or status updates, each anecdote no longer than a few lines, told in a hyperkinetic, scattershot style, much like how we imagine our brains work. The style of this essay would emulate how thoughts weave in and out of our heads when running, or even weave in and out of our thoughts when not running. I attempted a few entries like this, but each time I went running, I would think about remembering what I thought, and would attempt to recreate this when I returned home, my thoughts while running becoming meta-thoughts, the essay itself becoming meta-writing. But I lacked the discipline, and the idea of writing about running in this fashion, although the possibilities seemed infinite, ultimately proved narrow. The structure did not fit the idea.
About a month ago, I had an idea where this pastiche, Tweet-like approach could better be put to use. And yesterday, while at the Boston Book Festival, I attended a lecture titled The Novel: A Prognosis. The thesis of this panel and discussion was that the traditional novel as we know it is dead, and we live in an era where digital communication and digital media can no longer be ignored. Its effects have affected our way of thinking, our way of perception, our way of absorbing and interacting with people, places, and things. We have become the thing we did not want to become. And now we have to embrace it. And the novel, the essay, the written word has to embrace it. Nick Monfort, associate professor of digital media at MIT, said that we are not very far away from having the world's first Twitter book, a novel told entirely in tweets, 140 characters at a time. All the tweets could later be synthesized and re-jiggered into a book, but we are not that far from that time, and nor should we be.
Since I had this idea recently, I decided my idea was perfect for this challenge. And here it is. My new Markson-style, Tweetish essay on love. I am going to write an essay on the nature of love, omnidirectional, including quotes on all aspects of love, that indefinable emotion that we all have and yearn for and are embodied with and that we all find impossible to define: the nervous beginning moments, the growing comfort of, the ideas of soul mates, whether they exist, the myths, the facts, the origins, ideas taken from pop culture, songs, films, movies, heartbreak, love of humanity, forgiveness love, strength, courage it causes, infatuation, obsession, sexual, intimate, spiritual, familial, platonic, and everything else that is not covered in the above. All in 140 character spaces. It will posted both here and on my twitter page (@darrencormier), and reposted on Facebook, and any other social media outlets I may reach out to.
And there it is. My idea. Announcing to the world before I have a chance to tackle the idea. Thumbing my nose at the superstitions of other writers; thumbing my nose at the gods of insecurity. I am putting my idea into the digital maelstrom with the trust and indifference if it is stolen.
And so... there it is.