140 Characters of Creative Mental Vomit

If I turn down happy hour because “I’m writing,” my friends know something is wrong. It’s not because I turned down a beer. I do that. Sometimes. Okay? It’s the “writing” part that makes them squint their eyes and ask, “Are you okay?” Don’t get me wrong—I write constantly. I’m always writing something: good, bad, and otherwise. However, if I disappear for long periods of time because “I’m writing,” there probably is an emotional glitch. Maybe I had a rough day at work. Maybe I remembered that I once believed I’d be published by twenty-seven. Maybe I need to create a fictional healthy relationship on paper because I can’t seem to do it in life. Who knows? Sometimes, I just need to lock myself in a room and write. For hours. For days. I once did it for an entire holiday break—five days of typing, laughing, and crying, and when it was done, I felt like I’d lost the ability to communicate with fellow human beings. After about a week, I regained the ability to speak, but I will permanently be awkward in social situations involving long-term intellectual stimulation.

twitter-bird-wallpaper If you follow my blog, you realize that I recently joined Twitter. The updates scroll along the right side of the screen, so you know when I say weird things at all hours of the day. I didn’t want to join Twitter.  My friend made me do it, because he said it would help build my writer rep. Fine. I did it. Begrudgingly. And it was okay for awhile. I could post little snippets whenever I updated my blog. I could check out what was happening around Chucktown. Whatever. I rolled with it. I quite recently discovered that building my writer rep IS actually possible on Twitter. It’s possible via about a half-dozen short-short story listings, and every day, I am further impressed by my fellow creative writing “Tweeters” who tell entire stories within the span of 140 characters.

For instance:

  • @staedtler: And God spoke to Adam, saying: “You don’t appreciate Eve.” Adam shrugged. “Who’s she going to run off with?”  
  • @veryshortstory: I held her pretty hand, intertwining my fingers with hers. Enjoying the moment, then putting it with the rest, in the freezer.
  • @exodusrex: Crying down the interstate. Tears speeding.
  • @drnels: “A third baby shower this month. What is up with everyone?” I reminded him of the snowstorm in January when the power went out.

AMAZING! Those are under 140 characters. Full stories. Make your mind swirl at the prospect of what was happening behind the scenes when these short-short stories were born. And of course, I’ve gotten involved.

The ones that have caused the most stir from @saradobie:

  • Since when could he grow a beard? She could still remember him as a toddler, throwing up in the toy box and blaming the family cat.
  • Facebook says your boyfriend is “Single.”
  • “Of course, we were on acid then,” he says, as if this should make me nod and say, “Oh, right.”
  • She didn’t realize soup could be sexual ‘til she caught a cold. He came over with Campbell’s. The soup wasn’t as warm as his skin.

This Twitter thing ideal for me, you must understand. Since the discovery of these 140-character creative mental vomit opportunities, I haven’t had an “I’m writing” situation. I mean, I’ve been writing, because if I didn’t, I’d be a nutcase. But I haven’t been obsessively writing lately. I feel like these mini-purges tide me over. How? Why? Dunno for sure, but there’s something cleansing about telling a story—quick and to the point—whenever you want to and faster than most visits to McDonald’s.

So how do you get involved? Unfortunately, you have to join Twitter. Not hard. Go to http://www.twitter.com and do it. Then, find Sara Dobie and start following me: http://www.twitter.com/SaraDobie. (See what I did there? I just brainwashed you.) Then, you gotta learn the ropes a bit. Once you’re sort of familiar with what’s going on, you can start searching for these mini-contests. A couple of the ones I post to everyday: #TCTC (Times Cheltenham Twitter Competition), #cnftweet (Creative Nonfiction), #sixwordstories (Six Word Stories), and #vss (Very Short Story). There are tons more, but I haven’t had time to look around much yet. If you have any suggestions, please let me know! And remember: these gotta be under 140 characters. Not words. CHARACTERS. That means every space, period, and exclamation point counts. (Six Word Stories is even crazier—a whole story in six words!)

Maybe I’m enjoying my time on Twitter. Dang it. Stupid social media…Happy TWEETING. (URG! AHH! I SAID IT!!! AHHHHHHHH!)

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