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.
*** *** ***
(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.
(character count, with title: 70)
Idea for a Comedy Sketch
Marcel Proust opened a Twitter account today.
He couldn’t believe her.
He just couldn’t.
(82 characters, title included)
“And just what are we supposed to do with a used gondola now?”
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.
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?
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.