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Writer Wednesday: Should it be a tweet … a book, or something in between?

September 11, 2013

Writers now face not only what they will write, but what is the best method to convey the message? Is it a blog post? Tweet? A Facebook status update? A magazine article? A column? A book?

(And if you’re counting Twitter and Facebook, then all in the social media world are writers. Who knew?)

On a personal level, is my message best delivered in person, phone call, phone message, text, letter, a football stadium jumbotron?

What a rich age we live in and the short list above is only a click or a keystroke away in the vast sea of contemporary media possibilities.

I thought about this the other week on the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream” speech in 1963. There’s another notable anniversary the U.S. will observe this fall, remembering the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy in November. Suddenly these anniversaries were connected in my mind recalling a momentous turn of events in my own Mennonite family growing up: 1963 was the year we got our first television set. Many others in our church already had TVs and or course we begged dad for years, but as a deacon he drug his feet because of the “example” he was supposed to set for others. When Kennedy died, he waited no more, wanting to see all of the events as televised that terrible weekend. We kids didn’t know whether to be happy to sad: glad to be getting a TV, but devastated by the national tragedy.

Vernon Miller, deacon, North Goshen Mennonite Church and family

(My dad, the deacon in Mennonite plain suit.)

This year for the first time I suddenly connected that the King speech and the Kennedy assassination occurred within four months of each other, and realized that likely my father was not only motivated by the murder of JFK to get a TV, but by other news events like the King speech that also captivated the nation. (Dad was an early eager and outspoken advocate of equality and understanding across racial lines.)

Thinking about all this, I wondered whether I should write a blog post on it, but instead boiled the above longish paragraph down to a somewhat cryptic 140 character Tweet:

#martinlutherking just put together that King speech and JFK death both came late ’63.
Dad bght our 1st TV @JFKdeath, but he also loved King

Maybe I should have tried it as a Facebook post? My neighbors recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary and the children threw a lovely surprise picnic party for them. For that I chose just a Facebook post, with a few key pictures, because I wanted to share that news with nearby friends who also knew them.

Photo

“Congratulations to a great pair, our neighbors, Harold and Willie, who got married 65 years ago yesterday!”

An editor at Christian Century, who was one of my first editors, Richard Kauffman, uses Facebook for messages that sometimes become articles, or in place of an article, or a place to collect feedback that he weaves into an assignment or longer reflection. He recently moved to a condo where he hopes to eventually retire, and not have to move again. I enjoyed his short reflection on Facebook:

“How foolish of me to think we bought a condo. Rather, I now think we’ve been given both a sanctuary and, potentially,
a community–the two conducive to the inward and the outward journey. …”

That is deserving of a longer introspection sometime, it seems.

Speaking of longer media forms, I have often noted that many books start out strong and kind of lose their steam after about 3 or 4 chapters and the writer begins to repeat him or herself. Maybe some readers think that about my books.

P1020913

My daughter recently wanted feedback on a book, Baby Led Weaning with a book length subtitle: “The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow up a Happy and Confident Eater.” It’s an interesting book and the writers, Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett, say they started writing a magazine article and turned it into a book—but yes, it does repeat itself a lot (my only real complaint about it). To prove the point, a new edition of the book is shortened in text but includes recipes.

My husband can’t understand why I sometimes text my daughters when we still don’t have a text plan on our phone so they cost 25 cents a pop. But since our daughters each have busy lives of their own, sometimes a text can seem like a less intrusive way to get a short message to them, such as “on our way” or even just “call me.” Or when you’re waiting for worship to begin on Easter morning.

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When my work supervisor (who lives in another state) was expecting a new baby any day, she had planned to call me on Friday morning. By Friday afternoon, I had not heard from her, so I strongly suspected she was either in labor or had had the baby. I sent her a quick text about mid afternoon saying “hope u are in labor … prayers n best wishes.”

A short while later I got a short text back saying her new daughter had arrived. That felt kind of special.

Major life events normally shouldn’t be communicated by text (no breaking up with a girlfriend or heaven forbid, a wife or husband, but I know it’s happened). In some circumstances, maybe a wedding proposal by text works. I enjoyed watching several such proposals float by, sent by text, at the opening football game of the season at James Madison University’s stadium jumbotron.

Longer ago, a writer might have pondered whether to write his or her love message as a sonnet, ode, edict or epistle. The Biblical writers, especially in Psalms and Song of Solomon used a variety of poetic forms of the day.  I have no doubt that if Jesus could’ve, he would’ve used Facebook, Twitter, blogging. I can see it now, the classic verse we all memorized as kids, “Jesus wept.” Now that’s a tweet.

And now, this is entirely too long for a blog post, and we haven’t even touched on the visual communication arts. If you are still reading, thanks. This is my 100th post since beginning January 1, 2013. The readers are steadily growing, I’m happy to say.

To celebrate, I would love to share my new desktop background photo if you are interested. It’s a lovely scenic view of Zion National Park in Utah that I took this summer. Scenes such as this continue to serve as a communication form with God, don’t you think?

Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to email it to you privately. Or just grab it from here. My 100th post gift.  (I know, now everyone thinks they’re stock photographers, too. Ha.)

Zion Park, Utah, photo by Melodie Davis

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5 Comments
  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    As always I enjoyed readying your blog as I have enjoyed your Another Way messages for many years.
    Congratulations on your 100th blog
    I enjoy your pictures too
    I do not tweet or text but I still share things by email and on my Facebook and I try to encourage others through these means in my own small way.
    I have not started to blog though but I have shared your messages often
    Blessings from Orillia Ontario Canada

    • Thanks, Caro–or do you go by your whole name, which is very pretty by the way. Sometime you’ll have to tell me how you got it! Thanks for sharing the messages, that is very sweet. I feel like I know you. Thanks for staying in touch.

      • Hello again
        Yes Caro-Claire is my first name
        I still get it from most of my relatives and long time friends .
        I went by Caro for many years but was sorry I had dropped the Claire and I use it mostly in my correspondences ( I have a card ministry and make my own) and with my photographic work.)
        However we moved last year to a new town and as I was starting in with new friends, I have gone back to using it again.
        People are gradually catching on!
        The story behind it is alwasy an inter sting one to share though.
        I was named after two of my father’s former girl friends when he was in college .
        One was Caro and one was Claire !
        My mother named me and Caro was my godmother.

        Her name was Caro Hamilton and she was from an United Empire Loyalist family when they first came to Canada and she did not want to change her name.
        My dad was not a Hamilton so he did not fit the bill!
        In those days i(1930’s ) that was not the thing to do.to keep your maiden name.
        She eventually did marry a man named Ken Hamilton, had a family and we saw them every year at Christmas .
        Claire eventually married an American and moved to the USA but still kept in contact with my parents,
        PS I feel like know you and your family too

  2. Alice Risser permalink

    Keep up the good work Melody , I read every one of your blog entries. Congratulations on your 100 th entry. I also do not tweet or text, just Facebook and e mail.

    • Thank you, Alice. I hear that Arleta is “moving in” with you–hope you all have a great couple of days. I’m so glad she can visit. Good weekend!

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