Have you started Tweeting yet? I set up a Twitter account last month to see what all the fuss was about, and though I still can’t say that I know what all the fuss is about, I do like knowing which song is stuck in Ellen Degeneres’ head and where my favorite band, Carbon Leaf, is playing tonight–sort of.
Yesterday, in this blog, Jennifer Blanchard discussed the benefits of twittering for writers. She asserts that it makes writers more concise, since the site only allows 140 characters per post. I couldn’t help but think of Hemingway with his six word story (“For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.”) and what a great tweeter he would be. Trained as a journalist, he went for economy with his writing–never a superflous word. It amazes me how much he says without saying much at all. Take this bit of dialogue from A Farewell to Arms. We learn so much without the tedium of backstory.
“Have you a father?”
“Yes,” said Catherine. “He has gout. You won’t ever have to meet him. Haven’t you a father?”
“No,” I said. “A step-father.”
“Will I like him?”
“You won’t have to meet him.” (154)
For fun, I looked up Hemingway on Twitter, since many people pose as celebrities–dead or alive. There are five Hemingway’s Tweeting. I also found Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare, to name a few, and was amused to see that Willaim Shakespeare is now following me on Twitter.
Celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore have threatened to stop tweeting now that its founders are looking into connecting Twitter to reality TV. They are afraid that it will foster an atmosphere condusive to stalking to have their posts televised.
Which brings up the topic of connections. We are so connected to one another through social media, Twitter, Blogs–the world has shrunk to the size of a computer screen. It’s wonderful in many ways, but does it make individuals too accessible to one another? Are we giving too much of ourselves away?
As a writer, I’m constantly aware of what I give away in my fiction. Every character, scene, and bit of dialogue in my books comes from me–either through direct or indirect experience. Where else could it originate? Every scene has to be something I’ve done, witnessed, read about, or watched. It’s never a perfect copy of reality, but its roots are there. It’s why I stay away from sex scenes. Whether or not I’ve experienced what I’m writing about firsthand, I have to imagine that my reader might assume that it is. And since my readers include two very close priest friends and my father, who’s a deacon, I just don’t go there. I’ve alluded to sex, but the scene goes dark at the moment of action. I don’t know if it will always be that way, but for now it is.
I also have a hard time not imposing my morality on my characters. The book I’m currently working on involves characters in love, in the tropics, in a lusty, bawdy place. Hemingway says writers must tell the truth in their writing, but sometimes the truth is hard to tell. Again, how much am I giving away? Are the characters’ poor choices a reflection on me?
There are several people posing as Jesus on Twitter. Perhaps they have the answer.