This is a continuation of my attempt to write short, "Twitter-like" columns. Tweets — those little bursts of communication offered by Twitter — are a maximum of 140 characters in length. By "Twitter-like," I mean to write columns that are 140 or fewer words.
If I were to write a true "Tweet-sized" column with a maximum of 140 characters, at an average of, let’s say five to six characters per word, my column would be fewer than 25 words. I have already admitted in a previous column that writing with any meaning — any real value — in 25 words or less is very difficult.
I may give the 25-word column — a true Tweet-sized one — a try someday. But for now, limiting myself to 140 words (vice characters) is challenging enough, hence the term "Twitter-like."
Can information or opinions of any real value be disseminated in so short a number of words, whether they’re 140 or 25? You be the judge.
Writers spend a lifetime honing their skills and attempting to get across to their readers what they intend in the fewest number of words. Many writers have spoken on the topic of efficient … and at the same time effective … writing. (Oops. Those six dots separating clauses just added six to my character count.) I aspire to achieve, one day, the goals of the below authors:
-- "I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter." — Blaise Pascal, in his Lettres provinciales.
-- "Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short." — Henry David Thoreau.
-- "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter." — Marcus T. Cicero.
-- "I am never satisfied until I have said as much as possible in a few words, and writing briefly takes far more time than writing at length." — Karl Friedrich Gauss
-- "It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book." — Nietzsche
-- "The more you say, the less people remember. The fewer the words, the greater the profit." — Felelon
But until I can achieve those dizzying heights of authorship and "profit" described above, and write with meaning in a Tweet-sized 25 words or less, I’ll have to settle for attempting to get a point across effectively in 140 words or less. So here goes my next attempt at a meaningful 140 words:
Stepping onto the back porch for a breath of fresh air, I looked into the late night sky. At the moment I shifted my gaze south, a bright flash of light streaked straight down and was gone.
While no star was visible through the clouds, a "shooting star" had revealed itself to me. I saw the meteor only because I was outside at that exact moment and chanced to look at that exact spot in the sky where it burned up below the clouds. Quite possibly, I was the only person in the world to witness the biggest meteor I have ever seen.
I wish I may, I wish I might. Wishing on a shooting star might not achieve anything. But seeing that meteor reinforced the truth that being in the right place at the right time sure can.
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.