Birdsong

“How’d it go?” asked Jose.

“You weren’t following along?” I asked

“No, I’ve been here watching soccer,” said Jose.

“You didn’t miss much,” I said.

I’d gone down to Callahan’s to wind down after spending a full hour writing a series of tweets as part of my collaborative literature project. The idea was to interact on Twitter with other people and involve them in the collective invention of a story. The theory being that writing is usually a solitary business, but by opening the writing process up to anyone by posting an ongoing, dynamic narrative on Twitter, then any reader can instantly become a writer and participate in collective action.

“Did anyone play along?” asked Jose.

“Not that I could tell,” I said. “But that was the first try. One has to persevere. This sort of project will take some time to catch on. But once it does, I’m sure it will snowball.”

“Snowball?”

“Yeah, maybe that’s not the word I was looking for,” I said.

“Wouldn’t it be more useful to call your Senator or something?” asked Jose. “I mean if you want to do something that might help.”

“I have been calling the congressman that is supposed to be representing the district that I live in, but I don’t think it’s doing any good,” I said. “It’s much more fun writing fiction on Twitter.”

Later, after finishing a second pint — partly I was killing time hoping that the Preacher would show up — I paid up and walked back up the hill to Fisher’s Way. I need to do more than write these vignettes set in bars and coffee shops, I said to myself. I can just hear George Orwell now: “You’re wasting your time, Donavan. You’ve wrapped yourself in the blubber of the lily white whale of suburbia. Your little bourgeois stories about privileged Anglo-Saxons lazing about drinking alternately caffeinated and alcoholic beverages aren’t going to do anything to save the lives of your nonwhite brothers and sisters. No amount of beer drinking and soccer watching will spark a revolution or even contribute to improving the living standards of the working class in this country.”

“You’re right, George,” I said. “I am wasting my time. What would you suggest I do? Shoot an elephant?”

“You know, that wasn’t even me,” said George.

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