#cnftweet: A Micro-Essay Experiment

Day three of the Digital Pedagogy Lab, and after reading the chapter in Laura Gibbs‘ OER called Creativity and Constraints I’m trying one additional way of developing a condensed story. In Laura’s textbook, she talks about Tweet-sized stories.

Instead of writing microfiction, I decided to develop a micro-essay, and I wanted to publish that micro-work via Twitter, for the sake of authenticity and also as an experiment—can I tell a story in this small amount of words? I tagged the micro-essay #cnftweet, which is a hashtag associated with one of my favorite magazines Creative Nonfiction.

The rules of creating a #cnftweet are the following: tell a true story inside the confines of a tweet, make it snappy (that’s not a real rule; I just made it up), tell a story, and use the hashtag.

Here’s mine:

The backstory of this story’s central event includes this: yes, my mom really used to call me Bertha Butt, and she used to sing this weird song’s chorus to me when I was a child: Bertha Butt Boogie. I am not completely sure why, but I can guess. For starters, it’s funny in a mean way. Second, it kept me in check. Lastly, I don’t think my mother realized the impact of her words.

As a woman in my forties, I am over it. I don’t worry about my physical appearance, and I forgive my mother. But I keep telling the story because I think it’s compelling: it’s the story of how a parent projects their insecurities onto their child, and how the child swallows it whole. I don’t think my mother is the only parent to do this, and I think other people will be able to relate to this story. For that reason, I think it’s universal and worthy of sharing.

I’m not sure, however, if the micro-essay is the correct form. On Twitter, people are responding by ONLY being disturbed. I think I need more space to contextualize this story so people can see it’s about more than being bullied.

Even if the story requires more than a Tweet’s amount of words, I’m glad I can make this story public and gauge people’s reactions.

9 thoughts on “#cnftweet: A Micro-Essay Experiment

  1. My mother insisted I should be on a diet. I weighed 117 pounds, 63″ tall. I was fifteen. She worried about her weight all her life and her mother and sister too. Worrying about weight, I realize late in life, is not helpful.

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    1. Jan,
      I know what you mean about the weight thing. My mom once criticized me for gaining five pounds. I was fourteen. I am pretty sure I needed those five pounds to grow breasts. I agree with you when you say worrying about weight doesn’t matter. Being healthy, mentally and physically, is more important.
      Jennifer

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  2. So great, Jennifer! I appreciate your reflections on the ways that the micro-fiction format (or at least sharing via Twitter) didn’t allow folks to capture the depth of meaning that your story and experience conveys. That’s an issue I keep coming back to as a Twitter user. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Brandon, I was almost saying that, but not totally. From your reflection, I can see how the misunderstanding could stem from both the audience and the storyteller. I was focused on the storyteller because I am an overzealous perfectionist. =0)

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  3. “it’s the story of how a parent projects their insecurities onto their child, and how the child swallows it whole.” Reading this again, I remember how my mother’s insecurities influenced how she tried to raise me. For a few years when I was a teenager, I did not swallow “it whole.” I instead became somewhat anorexic, extremely fussy about food. It was very frustrating for her, and embarrassing if we were out in public. I was on the flip side of the weight issue: too thin, especially compared to my healthier, more robust cousins. I’ve been all over the scale since then. These days I don’t think about my weight as long as I feel strong and can “save” myself when I start wobbling in a yoga balance pose.

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    1. Marie, I like how you’re describing your ideas from the perspective of someone who externalized her pain. Isn’t starving oneself a way of externalizing your pain, at least to those who care about whether or not you eat? I’m all for saving oneself while in a yoga pose =0)

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