Monday, June 28, 2010

can it be done?

I was all set to write a post about the six-month check-in regarding my "40 things to do while I'm 40 list", until I realized that I've only been 40 for five months, so that one will have to wait until next month. So instead I'll talk about something else: Twitter.

I'm toying with the idea of tweeting a novel. And while I'm sure I'm not the first to think of this, and someone's doing it as we speak, I'm curious as to whether I could pull something like this off were I to actually give it a shot. First of all, how consistent do I have to be? In other words, if I'm in the middle of a scene ("Carmella crept out of bed & into the hall, only to trip over the tabby cat, who howled & hissed & took a swipe at her ankle with his claw."), can I interject w/ one of my more usual tweets? (Hey, Pandora Radio: in what universe are Depeche Mode and The Eagles part of the same musical genre?) Second of all, how do I protect against plagiarism, not to mention basically giving my readers a free book? Third of all, how do I not write crap? After all, this is presumably a first draft. Timelines are going to get screwed up, characters are going to be changed, tweaked, second-guessed. Plots will be subjected to inconsistencies, no doubt.

Worse still, what if I get writer's block, or bored?

Why do it at all? you ask. I suppose the lazy answer is, Why not? One of the best-selling books in Japan was reportedly written on a cellphone. There's a challenge in brevity, not to mention the arduous task of keeping the reader interested in real time, on the spot. And there's something to be said for the rhetorical situation, using a media typically reserved for randomness and banality (and the occasional promotion) to achieve something more substantive.

I don't know if I could pull it off. What's more, I don't know if I'd be able to sustain my own interest if one of my favorite authors were to do it. I mean, I don't even follow Jennifer Weiner's live-tweeting of The Bachelorette. (Then again, that has more to do w/ me preferring to poke myself w/ a stick repeatedly than watch The Bachelorette.)

So, readers, I'll ask you: what would you think of reading a novel, 140 characters at a time, on Twitter? Would you Follow an author you love just to see it unfold? Would you join Twitter for that sole purpose?

9 comments:

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I know it's been done - but the thought terrifies me for all the reasons you cite - and many more. I don't want a first draft showing up in the world 140 characters at a time. It would be ugly. And humiliating. Yeah, that's a big lose for me.

You could, however, open another twitter account just for the novel and leave your other account for tweeting about whatever.

I wish you luck. I simply don't have the nerve.

Elisa said...

Oh, that's a good idea for having 2 separate Twitter accounts.

I honestly don't know if I could do it. (Maybe write it under a pen name to spare myself from embarrassment and possibly killing my career?)

Jude said...

Wow, very interesting idea! The challenge, I would think, might be that one is forced to be brief. I HATE being forcibly abridged by the Twitter space restrictions; but then, that's the whole idea behind Twitter. You might create a whole new style of writing this way. Good luck!

Debbi said...

Maybe if you're not up for doing a novel, you could try your hand at a short story?

Elisa said...

Thanks, Jude and Debbi! Not even sure when I would start this little project, if I decide to do it.

Debbi, a short story would seem less intimidating, but not for me. I'm more confident w/ novels, believe it or not.

:)

Debbi said...

Actually, Elisa, I can believe it. Short stories are tough to write.

Sheila said...

For me your idea envokes vision of the old serials in the newspapers. The quick pace of twitter makes me wonder about reader-interuptus. Would you have to write the book in advance and then release it a bit at a time?

Sheila said...

For me your idea envokes vision of the old serials in the newspapers. The quick pace of twitter makes me wonder about reader-interuptus. Would you have to write the book in advance and then release it a bit at a time?

Elisa said...

Good question, Sheila. I think it would be more authentic to not write it in advance. Of course, that makes for crappier writing...