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The Art of Writing: Where is It Today?

Amanda McHugh ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Reading and writing are meant to change over the years. Different forms of writing and writing styles have created many diverse ways of creating a piece of literature. Even once controversial writing styles, like Ernest Hemingway’s “Tip of the Iceberg” style, have become more popular, and even well liked. However, the concern of where writing is heading today has been brought to the public’s attention. Instead of reading novels and books, people read blog posts, tweets, and status updates. Even though people are still reading, are they actually taking in informative and useful information?

The popular social networking site Twitter has taken on a new social phenomenon. There are now Twitter users who have devoted their accounts to tweeting the words of entire novels. In 2009, twitter user @publicdomain (Unknown) decided to tweet the entire novel of Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Today, twitter user @JenAshleyWright (Jennifer Wright) and @ihatejoemarshal (Joe Marshall) have been tweeting sentence-by-sentence the lines of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Both users have taken unique approaches to the challenge, with Wright tweeting sentence by sentence, and Marshall tweeting 140 characters regardless of sentence breaks. While Wright started this challenge four years ago covering up to chapter five of the novel, Marshall plans that he will be able to finish the novel in about five and a half years.

Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright), one of the twitter users tweeting The Great Gatsby, comments to Salon “there is something lovely about the slow process of discovering a book 140 characters at a time.” She further explains that people often skip passages and lines of a novel to read ahead to the more interesting and action pact parts. In doing so, readers often miss the interesting and elegant lines. Wright describes how Fitzgerald would say “Jordan’s escort was a persistent undergraduate given to violent innuendo,” and any other person would think “what a jerk.” Furthermore, she concludes that her experience of tweeting the classic novel has opened her eyes to deeper meanings of the novel, and she thinks that by slowly reading the novel line-by-line other people will likewise experience the same effect.

This effect of tweeting a novel has taken different measures on Twitter users. Karinna Oliveros, an avid Twitter user, comments, “I personally would not waste my time writing a daily post on Twitter, especially if I might get into trouble.” Similar thoughts follow Oliveros, thinking these Twitter users are ‘hipster jerks’ looking for attention. Other websites, such as Melville House Books, thinks these attempts to tweet a whole book will fall into the same trap @publicdomain did with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where the Twitter handle was unable to finish tweeting the novel. On the other hand, some Twitter users enjoy reading the novel tweet by tweet, like Marshall’s 275 and counting followers.

People are giving Twitter and other social networking sites more power than they really have. Twitter is just a social media site designed to post short updates about life, upcoming events, or just general statements. It can be viewed as a good thing that novels may be published on social networking sites like Twitter. Although it is disappointing to avid readers and writers that the general public no longer appreciates a good book, if Twitter is where people are going to read, there might as well be something thought-provoking in one’s newsfeed. As the times of culture change, writing and its forms will change with it. These new forms of writing are may be looked down upon, but as long as people are still writing, whether it be Tumblr posts or Pinterest comments, the art of writing will still exist.

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