Alive-Alive-Oh (But A Bit Twisted)

It's aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!

The "it" in question being me.

Yes, the snake didn't get me after all! I'm actually back in my own little hovel, which, although far tinier than my sister and brother-in-law's gorgeous, sprawling farmhouse, is at least, mercifully, devoid of reptiles and rodents.

*Knocks on wooden forehead.*

Work has been very busy, but I'm not complaining at all (well, a little bit... but that's just because I'm TIRED), because I'm just too grateful to still HAVE work as a writer. (ME!?!? Working as a WRITER!! Sorry. After all this time I still have moments of utter disbelief that there are people willing to pay the likes of me to do this. I'm extremely grateful, every single day.)

And speaking of writing... I have, quite accidentally, stumbled upon a new mini-hobby of sorts.

Remember my initial aversion to join Twitter? I didn't actually ever see the point of it, to be honest. To me, it seemed too much like glorified texting - which I hate, because I'm way too verbose to keep myself within such stingy word constraints. Anyway, as you may or may not recall, she finally convinced me to do it.

After a few hesitant and yet mind-numbingly boring and uninspired tweets, my twitter page became yet another web spot for me to neglect and ignore. But then I read about this Canadian author called Arjun Basu.

Allow me to nick the rest of this story from my other (equally neglected) blog:

Sometimes true creative genius sprouts forth and flourishes in the most unlikely places.

When Canadian writer and editor Arjun Basu signed up for his own Twitter account at the micro-blogging Web site, his initial tweets were, he admits, just as banal and boring as that of the next guy.

Sure, Twitter was already graced by a few poetic souls dreaming up haikus (or 'twaikus', as it was quickly dubbed) within the 140 character posting constraints imposed by the site, but most users were merely tweeting about the inane minutiae about their lives. There were a lot of uninspired "Standing in line" and "Starving" postings in the site's early days.

One day, as Arjun was staring at his blank Twitter box, wondering what to type, an image of a child trying to reach a cookie on a table entered his mind, and he decided to post it to Twitter as a short (VERY short) story.

After that, he wrote another. And another. And soon, the published author and former magazine editor had a following of more than 7 000 eagerly devouring his every Twister - for that's what he calls his 140-character short story creations.

A literary agent soon came calling. There has even been talk that some of his byte-sized pieces of micro-fiction could eventually be used as sources for really short films!

These days, as Twitter continues to expand as a global source of news and entertainment, Arjun has also become a bit of a celebrity. He and his creations receive media attention almost daily. It was through one such online news story, in fact, that I came to learn about him and his Twisters. I immediately found his Twitter page, signed up to follow him and was soon enraptured by his brilliant stories.

Here, just to give you a tiny taste, are some of my favourites by him:
"When he stroked her shoulder softly she felt it all the way in her toes. And she knew she would end up marrying him. Because she had no legs"

And this:
"He fell in love with the girl at the post office. But because her job was so tragic he never asked her out. His stamp collection is enormous"

This past weekend, I read another newspaper story featuring Arjun and his Twisters. Suddenly inspired, I wrote the following tweet on my own Twitter page: "
Inspired by the brilliant @arjunbasu, I've decided to try my own clumsy hand at writing #twisters and #twitterature. Stay tuned for 1st try."

A few minutes later, I posted my first ever Twitter short story: "
She looked too wired, so when she nervously asked for coffee, he gave her decaf. After the explosion, he saw her face on TV: suicide bomber."

A few hours later, much to my absolute astonishment and delight, I received a private message on Twitter from Arjun Basu himself!
He was very gracious and kind and told me to "keep going"!!!

Needless to say, I was absolutely floored. I never in a MILLION years thought that he would ever even notice my tweets, let alone acknowledge it!

And so, with Arjun's permission and blessing, I have been keeping at it. I've just posted my fourth attempt and I have to tell you, it's amazingly difficult to try and create a coherent story in just 140 characters. (Remember also that every punctuation mark and space also count as different characters! Also, I've decided to at times resort to American spelling, since it's a bit more economic than ours!) Writing such short shorts is brilliant exercise for firing up and jolting the old creative writing brain, though, but also terribly intimidating.

I can only hope to one day be even HALF as good as the extraordinarily talented Mr. Arjun Basu!

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7 Comments

Annika said:

I have been enjoying the heck out of your Twisters. I'll have to check out Arjun Basu as well (but HE has never had coffee with me).

Po said:

Those twisters are great! I wanna try too! I have gone off twitter because I have an addictive personality and it was affecting my work. But those do look cool.

pylorns said:

Well that's cool, interesting to see how you got sucked into twitter too

Marco said:

Well, you're far too a tasty treat to be eaten by a snake ;-)

I've not caught the Twitter bug to be honest. So far I have resisted the temptation to join up. I do love those little tweets of yours ;-)

Keep 'em coming

must. resist. urge. to. join. twitter.

I loved your story. keep it up, but post some here too!!

Also well done on being alive - keep that up as well.

Res said:

I love this idea! God knows I have trouble enough coming up with storylines without any character limitations, I'm suitably impressed!
Hopefully you won't neglect your longer pieces here as a result...! (would be a shame, especially now that you have narrowly esssssscaped death)

Redsaid Author Profile Page said:

Annika: Thanks, doll! And yes, I got all misty eyed when I remembered that it's already been FOUR YEARS since our coffee date in Pasadena!

Po: I miss you on twitter! You know, repeatedly indulging in certain behaviours might be construed by some as 'addiction', but those flashes of brilliance posted by you? A definite indication that you are a genius!

Py: Look who's talking, Mister Twitter!

Marco: Loyal to the tooth, you are! (You just want that coffee in 2011 when you come back to South Africa, though, don't you?) I owe you an e-mail!

Aunty: Yes, keeping alive these days require so much stamina! Please finish your thesis so that you can become a twit too?

Res: Oh, my, gosh! A new sucke... I mean, reader!!!!!!! Welcome, Res! (Although you've probably come to your sensessss by now, ha ha! Since I've taken so long to reply. Sorry 'bout that. If you do stick around, you'll see that this is not unusual behaviour from the likes of me!)

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about
is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)

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comments
  • Redsaid Author Profile Page: Annika: Thanks, doll! And yes, I got all misty eyed when I remembered that it's already been FOUR YE... [go]
  • Res : I love this idea! God knows I have trouble enough coming up with storylines without any character l... [go]
  • Aunty Helpful Dictator : must. resist. urge. to. join. twitter. I loved your story. keep it up, but post some here too!! Al... [go]
  • Marco : Well, you're far too a tasty treat to be eaten by a snake ;-) I've not caught the Twitter bug to be... [go]
  • pylorns : Well that's cool, interesting to see how you got sucked into twitter too... [go]
  • Po : Those twisters are great! I wanna try too! I have gone off twitter because I have an addictive perso... [go]
  • Annika : I have been enjoying the heck out of your Twisters. I'll have to check out Arjun Basu as well (but H... [go]
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