Doyce Testerman is an author who’s writing experimental fiction on Twitter, the micro-blogging web application which allows a maximum length of 140 characters (including spaces). Instead of just ‘tweeting’ a novel one line at a time however, Doyce tweets in the character of Finnras, the protagonist of his story. In this interview series, Doyce talks about the project. You can read part one in the series here.
P: How do you feel the @finnras project has informed or influenced your more traditional prose, if at all?
DT: One of the things I really, truly appreciate about writing Adrift (what I call the larger ‘Finnras story’) has been the constraint I have to work under to get meaningful prose delivered in 140 characters. I can be wordy when I want to be (as you might have noticed), and writing via Twitter has really helped me work on concise, specific language. There’s a lot of precision required, and some verbal gymnastics. I love that challenge.
It’s also relaxing. So much of what we write is "so many hundred pages"; "so many thousand words" – having that daily, miniature project to work on is like a kind of meditation. I compared it to working on a bonsai before, and that’s a fair comparison — I can step back from whatever huge landscaping job is my current ‘main project’ and just sit quietly and work on a tiny thing.
It’s a little more fun than a bonsai, though; sometimes it tells me jokes.
P: Will the @finnras project continue indefinitely, or do you have a specific endpoint in mind?
DT: I have specific things I really hope I get to see. If pressed, I could even describe the progress from the beginning to end as a series of ‘books’, starting with Adrift, but it’s not a perpetual story — there’s a very definite end point off in the future. That isn’t to say that I know what’s going to happen… but I do know where.
P: What would you say is the greatest benefit you’ve seen from the project?
Every day, it reminds me why I write. It makes me laugh, makes me happy, sometimes makes me sad. That sounds corny as hell, but it is what it is.
I think that you can sometimes lose track of why you’re writing in the middle a big first draft – you can easily lose track of why you’re writing when you’re in the middle of second or third or mumble-teenth revision of a story you’ve been living with for a couple years. Doing this project is worth it, just for the daily reminder ‘why’.
It’s also become a good warm-up for me — once I finish up with Finn for the day, I’m ready to get back into the bigger projects.
Ugh. I sound like an advertisement for a writer’s workshop.
You know, it’s a Radio Flyer’s worth of fun, and I’m going to keep doing it until it isn’t. There.
The series concludes on Friday, 3/27, with a survey of writing projects undertaken on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.