Reading Under the Influence: The Twitter Fiction Festival

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence



I, @billroorbach, am still trying to understand Twitter after a year of tweeting and re-tweeting and the translating of tweet code language, even that as simple as say, RT, which means re-tweet. Remember, I was the guy who until a year ago thought LOL meant Lots of Luck, which always seemed mean. Like, “But you’ve always been older than Dave, LOL.”  So I felt more trepidation than joy when I was invited to take part in the 2014 Twitter Fiction Festival.  The Future of Fiction, one of the tweets I’ve been asked to RT proclaims.  LFHN!

(That’s Bill and Dave’s code, BTW, for Let’s Fucking Hope Not!)

But over time, and after learning to use HootSuite (never heard of it), a social media scheduling tool, I’ve gotten pretty interested in the possibilities of Fiction on Twitter, and have decided to take part WTMC (Without Too Much Cynicism).

The Festival “takes place” starting tomorrow, Wednesday, March 12, and running through Sunday, March 16, and spanning March 15, which is Dave’s Birthday. (HBTYD!)  Several dozen writeres are taking part, each with a scheduled time slot.  The schedule map is available online, a kind of interactive game of Memory.  And the idea is that you can tune in live and see a story unfold tweet by tweet.  You can also, of course, do the Netflix approach and binge-read a given entry all at once after the fact.

My time-slot is 4:00 pm EST (NYC time) Monday through Sunday, except Friday, which is 2:00 p.m.

There will be lots going on throughout the festival (or lots “going on” I guess), including God tweeting a new book of the Bible (Justin Bieber is Jesus’s little brother, it turns out), a crowd-sourced mystery or two, and a lot of funny stuff.  Gabrielle Zevin will tweet as Daniel Parish, an author using Twitter for the first time, disaster.  Benjamin Percy will terrify us, apparently.  Love that guy.  Sara Farizan tweets an ode to the ever-present Gyro Poster Girl.  Anthony Marra is tweeting the erotic inner life of Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey; Liz Freemantle is tweeting Anne Boleyn’s story from the point of view of her dog; Tracy Guzeman is tweeting an art-world farce from multiple points of view.  There will be stories from airports, from India, from groups and from machines.  And familiar characters from history and literature will come back to life in various guises.  There will be comedy, tragedy, romance, sex, all kinds of goodies. If nothing else, it will be weird.

I fully realize that I’m an artist being co-opted by a huge corporate and media entity, that I’m nothing but a myrmidon providing free content.  But I’m also PMAMOW (Bill and Dave’s readers will recognize the code for Promoting Myself And My Own Work!).  But what content!  My new novel The Remedy For Love is coming from Algonquin in October.  I’m very proud of this, naturally, and though pride goeth before a fall, so does publicity.  (Algonquin, in fact, arranged for me to be invited to the Festival and even wrote my application.) My idea is to explore the backstory of one of my main characters in that novel through tweets from her many admirers.  Will Danielle find love?  It is fascinating to contemplate: how to  get character and story to emerge from one-liners, without writing a linear narrative and without giving away anything in the forthcoming book. How to rise above the multi-symbiotic marketing opportunity to create something worth reading? Because in the end, that’s where I’m going with this, as with all my work, for better or worse, trying to create work that’s worthwhile no matter the situation.

I’ll let you be the judge of my success. All you have to do is join Twitter, then follow me, then tune in, so to speak, at 4:00 each day but Friday (that’s 2:00), and watch “Danielle For Now” unfold.  The woman’s got more suitors than Penelope, and her Odysseus is late home.

You can let me know what you think by tweeting in during the performance, let’s call it. And the work will be interactive in that way. Please do tweet in to give Danielle advice.  She needs it sorely.

Smile Face!

[If you’re new to Bill and Dave’s, or just haven’t Liked us yet, please Like us by clicking on the Like button upper right corner of the webpage! Why? We’re not sure!]

  1. Peter Peteet writes:

    Remedy for life-or perhaps just a palliative to “ease the pain of living”I’ll not live this Trojan War of words live-though I may binge read these fast fractured fictions later. LOL and I’ll be waiting on the “Remedy for Love”in the fall;Danielle for Now sounds like that oxymoronic thing called sex-work;not-love though perhaps not bad.If any myrmidon’s murmurings could tempt me to tweet t’would be yours so like Alice I’l peek even through that smallest of perception’s doors-later at my Danielle’s sore need for tweet will have to do without my meat which will have a clock and cars to beat-happy wrench work to all!

  2. Andrew McDonnell writes:

    While I like the idea that it helps your “PMAMOWing”, doesn’t it also promote the defamation of the English language by limiting a post to 140 characters?

    I’ve seen ths argument mde n wud be interested 2 hear ur thoughts.

  3. john harvey writes:

    Hey Bill,

    Good luck with this newfangled twittering thing.

    And thanks for the new word – myrmidon!