I am looking forward to seeing you in Bristol this July and learning about your writing. I will be hosting a workshop on hybrid narrative and crafting sentences that work at the level of separate stories. Festival director Jude Higgins has asked some of us to post ideas ahead of our rendezvous.
I have an idea for a new book based on my Facebook posts. The working title is, Postcards from the Thing that is Happening, September 2016 to June 2018. Can social media generate literary writing? I use Facebook in four basic ways: to comment on political developments, to share a critical response to a work of art, to share a personal account, to try out short literary pieces often in the form of lists and broken narratives. I also post captioned images and photos, same as everyone. Facebook is, after all, a visual platform. I have created several hybrid texts by splicing these sections together, alternating criticism, fiction, memoir, and social commentary. The sense of wholeness derives from the consistent narrative voice.
In creating this kind of collage, you have to experiment for a while, swapping out the “tiles” and discovering a rhythm or sense of connection in the “jump cuts.” The connections can be sounds or images. Composing this way is like writing music. The order of sections does not have to make logical sense to arouse an emotional response in the reader and also create momentum in the piece. It’s helpful to think in terms of the visual art technique of collage. Also of filmic techniques such as “jump cuts,” “fades,” and “montage,” where meaning leaps across the border between sections. Proximity more than plot in the conventional sense connects section A to section B. In writing posts, I try to look out rather than in, the same way you do in writing dramatic narrative. I try to conjure an experience instead of using summary and analysis.
If you want to construct a piece this way, try posting in the various categories I’ve outlined for a while. Once you’ve built up an inventory, you can copy the pieces into a Word document and look for thematic links or other forms of affinity. The Festival organisers are copying examples from my posts to give to my workshop participants and to anyone else coming to the festival who is interested. The hybrid piece linked below, constructed from Facebook posts and other notes, was published on the Tin House website in October, 2017:
See you next month!
Laurie is running a workshop on ‘How to Write a Hybrid Narrative: Beyond ‘Fiction’ and ‘Non Fiction’ on Saturday morning from 11.05 – 12.35 pm