Category Archives: On media

No small sparks from Tiny Truths

Restrictions provoke creativity, my mother (who is also a writer) always reminds me. Meanwhile, Anne Lamott, in the book on writing Bird by Bird, swears that major writing projects can begin with “just what I see through the one-inch picture frame.” So when I learned about the Tiny Truths contest in the literary journal Creative Nonfiction, I had to try it. What could squeeze the wide, flowing world of possibilities into a smaller frame than a Twitter-scale essay?

A few recent compositions, submitted publicly, as they all are, through Twitter:

@pattywetli: I take a deep breath and dial. She picks up on the second ring. Her voice doesn’t sound like cancer, it sounds like Amy.

@myurbanwild: Teeter-totter talk: Girl asks, “How do you know two people are married?” Boy shrugs, says, “They’re yelling at the same kids.”

The idea is to “tell a true story in 130 characters (or fewer)” on Twitter. With the spare 10 characters, add the hashtag #cnftweet. If you do all of that and follow @cnfonline, you have a chance to win the micro essay contest for that day. How do the winners know? They achieve a coveted “favorite” ranking from CNF. They may also find themselves featured in the next issue of Creative Nonfiction, alongside about 10 other tweeps.

I found this a delightful, bite-sized challenge that got my creative energy flowing.

Ready to try it? Okay. Go! Add your micro essay as a comment on this post. Don’t forget to tell us your Twitter handle or share a link to the tweet.


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Filed under Community of writers, On media

Which words to believe?

Haiti presidential palace and fence

Haiti's presidential palace remains crumpled in August 2010. Photo by Rhea.

January 12, 2011 marks the one-year anniversary of the earthquake that toppled Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It was the aftermath of that 35 seconds of destruction that brought me to the country in August, and led to a five-part series on members of the group Friends of Deaf Haiti volunteering at a deaf tent city (see this page).

In November, Haitians voted on a new president for the first time since the quake. It is this event, perhaps more than arguments in criticism or defense of foreign aid, that have dominated public discussion in recent days. That is, until the airwaves and Web pages lit up with questions about a tragic shooting in Tuscon.

The United Nations and Organization of American States acknowledge some glitches in the election process in Haiti, but overall see no need for a rehash. Others see irrevocable flaws. Meanwhile, in the scramble to find meaning in a deadly few seconds outside of a supermarket, we debate whether slaughter originated in political rhetoric or just an imbalanced mind.

Many truths remain clouded until someone puts them into words. Facts and textures emerge through the telling. But what happens when the stories differ? I’ll leave you with that question as I contemplate a grim milestone and a bewildered country.

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Filed under International, On media