At least a few decades ago, I read 20 Lines a Day by Harry Mathews. I must confess that all these years later, I can remember little of it other than I liked it so it must have been worth reading, and something about cigarettes and France. Granted, vague memories. Mathews followed Stendhal’s advice for writers to crank out “twenty lines a day, genius or not.” (If you want to start down an internet rabbit hole, go to Wikipedia and search for Stendhal syndrome and start link surfing from there).
Twenty lines might have made a lot of sense when most people still wrote in notebooks, but 500 words a day is I suppose roughly equivalent for our digital age. So I’d like to thank @niallon11 for starting up the 500 Words a Day Community here on the Hive blockchain. I know that @niallon11 meant at least 500 words, but when I post to this Community, they’ll be exactly 500 words, at least as far as WordCounter.net is concerned. I used to write a bunch of #fiftywords stories, all of which were exactly 50 words long and, at least for those, I found that forcing myself to do exactly 50 made me choose my words carefully, nothing extra, but just enough. In the same way, the stories I’ve written for the #zapfic challenges that @felt.buzz posts might have been quite different if they had not been exactly 240 characters long.
But this post is just a general “Hello world” to the 500 Words a Day Community. Going forward, following what I remember of the Harry Mathews book, I’ll write some short fiction pieces, likely in #freewrite style based on prompts, perhaps the ones that @mariannewest suggests daily (although striving for exactly 500 words means I’d have to toss the 5-Minute idea out the window, and isn’t it a fine day when you get to use the word defenestrate?), but also observations and commentary about this weird world we live in, random musings and, if you’re not lucky, free verse poetry. Okay, I’ll probably spare you that last one.
But I’ll probably do mostly short fiction. That and experiments like short character sketches or plot ideas for longer fiction that may or may not ever develop into something longer. Even if that’s a bad habit — little vignettes that never pan out, like my vague idea for a novel set in a fictitious city that that’s one-third Shanghai in the 1920’s or 1930’s, one-third Paris on the eve of the French Revolution, and one-third modern-day Los Angeles. Yeah, one day I’ll write that novel. Sure I will.
I’m looking forward to trying out GPT-3 Artificial Intelligence. Talk to Transformer was based on the earlier GPT-2 and produced some interesting writing. For now at least, humans are the better writers, but we’re probably not far from Turing Test obsolescence. But today, a comfortable chair to park my butt on and a steady flow of coffee to fuel my fingers on a keyboard.