I spend too much time on Twitter. Sometimes I try to justify this by talking up, to myself if no one else, the creative possibilities of the website. In 2013 I wrote a story on it, one tweet per day on a dedicated account, over the course of the whole year. That story was called ‘J’, and was an experiment in ambient storytelling. I felt that I had identified the inherent obstacles the format threw up: that my one-a-day tweet would be drowned out in most people’s timelines by the wealth of competing information; that it would be difficult to sustain a narrative with 24 hours between each entry; that people wouldn’t necessarily see every tweet, and so would lost track of the storyline. My response to these was to give my story a simple overarching narrative that would allow individual tweets or runs of tweets to work within it, on a micro level, while the macro story would take care of itself. This was that ‘J’ would tell the story of one woman’s life, from cradle to grave, in that she was born on 1 January, and would die, aged 80-something, on 31 December. Some runs of tweets followed critical moments in her life in detail. Some jumped hopscotch through her experience. Sometimes things moved fast, sometimes things moved slow. On average J aged a year every four or five days.
Since then I have dabbled in a few other short-lived attempts at using Twitter creatively, but recently I had a new idea that uses Twitter threads to construct a single narrative story with different temporal and thematic strands. (Since then Twitter has changed the way it uses threads. I’m not entirely sure that this won’t spoil what I had planned, but the only to find out is to go ahead and see.) Since ‘J’, obviously, Twitter has also doubled its character count. The 140 character limit was integral to the style of that story, resulting in a story of 9,000 words. I’m not sure yet how I will deal with the new 280 limit.
Again, I’ve created a dedicated Twitter account to host the story, @deathofacat. That’s the title of the story: ‘Death of a Cat’. (Spoiler: a cat dies in it.) I will start it on 1 January 2018. Like ‘J’, it will be largely improvised, day by day. It won’t necessarily last a whole year. I’d love it if you followed the account.