I used to be a headline writer. Here is the best headline I ever wrote. It was on an inconsequential little story about a tree surgeon who felled a limb that struck his client. The headline:
He came. He sawed. He conked her.
(That fits into a tweet four times.)
I also wrote this one. A guy got thrown in jail with an older inmate. It was Father’s Day. They realized they were father and son. The headline:
Chip off the ol’ cellblock: Father and son do quality time together
At the time that I worked as a headline writer, I also wrote fiction: short stories.
My headlines boldly gazed out from newspaper racks across the city.
My “real writing” was read by almost no one: Just skimpy writer groups and somnambular community college classes.
Now I work in social media, where celebrities blurt out typos to millions.
And where there are also writers:
I am their readers.
I am also a writer.
At the Super Bowl, as the 49ers attempted a historic comeback, I tweeted this:
Inside the Superdome is one big room of believers who desperately want to watch a dim #SuperBowl become an electrifying turnaround. #SB47
Headlines and tweets are the dim sum of the reading diet: You browse, you choose, you consume, you forget.
But they can be more. In November, Twitter hosted a fiction contest. And, like language anywhere, tweets can be poetry.
Behind each one is a writer.
Behind some of them is a rewriter:
A safecracker minutely tumbling a romantic semantic combination.