You Meet the Nicest Immortal Writing Gods in the Strangest Places

Margaret Atwood talking about Fanado on YouTube

Because I don’t waste enough time already searching for videos of cats quoting Milton on YouTube, I decided to mess around a bit more with Twitter the past couple of weeks. Under the rationalized pretext that it might open up some more channels for my copywriting business (and because I thought someone might tweet about a cat riding a unicycle on YouTube), I started tweeting more than the thin, desultory wing-flappings I’d shot out over the past year. You know, about important stuff, like the fact that you can now get an espresso machine in your car.

I also started following more people, other than the ones named things like IPostCatsTypingOnYouTube. I guess I don’t get out much, but it surprised me that there are prominent writers on Twitter, and some of them tweet their fool writerly heads off. Somewhere in the ether, I saw a tweet from Margaret Atwood, so I started following her (@margaretatwood). I knew that Margaret Atwood was hip to tech because I’d read about her LongPen work years ago. But I was amazed to see how much she tweets, and how casual and fun she can be in her stream.

I am talking about Margaret Atwood, author of Oryx and Crake, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Robber Bride, Cat’s Eye—all works that I marveled at for the sureness and scope of the writing, the power of the imagination, the glint of the language. I think Atwood is one of the best fiction writers alive, a giant in the field, and to see her merrily tweeting—she sent many funny tweets from the recent Comic-Con—boggled my mind. I suppose I think the literary mandarins are levitating on silk pillows in a Patagonian opium den, not furiously pounding their iPhones. Who knew?

Seth, Let’s Do Lunch
I did have some inkling, when I emailed Seth Godin a while back, and he quickly replied, that many of the titans are actual human beings. I am a member of Seth’s Triiibes network, and indeed I had a Triiibes-related question, but that a guy like Seth, who undoubtedly gets emails by the bushels, takes the time to answer some nebbish’s question struck me. I’ve emailed other cybersphere celebrities, like Chris Brogan, and received back cordial replies as well. Atwood even retweeted a tweet of mine expressing interest in her Fanado project that interactively links artists, creators and fans. You might kick a buck in to that Indiegogo project of hers if you dig what she’s putting out there.

So, this obviously isn’t an invitation to go badger your writing idols on Twitter or by email. It’s more of a reminder that we live in interesting times. I’m going to check and see if Mark Twain has a Twitter account so I can get some cigar recommendations.

Margaret, Seth, know of any good cat videos?

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11 thoughts on “You Meet the Nicest Immortal Writing Gods in the Strangest Places

  1. Drat! Until that last part of the article, I thought this WAS an invitation to go badger my writing idols (you, in particular) on Twitter.

    (Hmm… I’ll have to do it anyway.)

    Margaret Atwood inspires and delights me, and not just because she makes no apologies for that unbridled hair of hers.

    Perhaps someday (though probably not in our lifetime, fellow no-spring-chicken) her Long Pen remote-access concept will advance to the point that fans (well, at least the ones in the VIP group) will be able to temporarily access their favorite writer’s IMAGINATION.

    A fitting technological tribute—and damn scary concept—for the grande dame of dystopian vision, wouldn’t you agree?

  2. Second thing I’ve read about Atwood recently, and I’ll admit right here that she’s only a name to me. I’ll go read some of her words now.

    A while back I reached out to a second-tier chap who’d been interviewed by someone I consider a first-tier chap (my tiers are very close to the ground.) The last question and its answer sounded like a pitch for my newest book so I mustered up the mustard to ask Mr. 2nd Tier if I could share my book in exchange for a cover quote, or write a guest post, or some such.

    And since I was already in the mustard, I asked Mr. 1st Tier, too.

    Mr. 2nd gave a polite, perfectly reasonable refusal.

    Mr. 1st said yeah, guest post me, and when I, with trepidation only another writer can know, sent my guest post off to a guy who is a *poet* fer cryin’ out loud (here’s the heirarchy: non-fiction writers are topped by fiction writers who bow before songwriters who polish the shoes of poets.)

    Where was I?

    Oh, so I send this poet my piece, and he says, I don’t think I’ll have to change a word; he says, that never happens; he says, I love it, both content and style.

    And, hey, wanna do another one down the road?

    Yes, I did jump and shout like a teenage girl at a Bay City Rollers concert. (George Martin’s daughter once asked him, in the heyday of the BCR, “The Beatles; you did them, Daddy; were they as big as the Bay City Rollers?” and he said “Probably not, dear” and added parenthetically “Someday she’ll find out for herself.”)

    My stepson James ends every blog post with “That’s XX words that could have been used in a book instead.” Probably time to start doing that with my comments at other people’s blogs.

    Now I’m going to paste in the entire contents of Grey’s Anatomy to fill the rest of the empty space.

  3. Annie, I admire the idea of accessing a writer’s imagination—until I consider my own imagination, which combines the Rocky Horror Picture Show with long-forgotten foodstuffs in your fridge that have developed the ability to crawl, and all the outtakes from Yoko Ono’s albums from the 70s. There are cruelties there that no viewer could endure.

    Of course, if you want to get an exclusive preview, I can give you a half-hour free, but then your monthly subscription to the author’s cranial scan will cost you $36.99.

  4. Joel, I love it when you provide me the lost, unpublished chapter of Finnegan’s Wake in your comments. Or maybe you were free-associating after you ate some well-aged rye bread? Regardless, I’m pleased to hear that your tiers are not tears, and they are shinnying up. Or clambering. One does love a clamber.

    In other universes, I join you in digging the poet who found your lyre strummings lyrical.

    On the M. Atwood front, the grande dame herself directly answered a tweet of mine on this post with “@bentguy1 : Thank you! @Fanadoevents see nice blog! No cat videos, but cat poem coming soon on my @wattpad page.”

    I will be writing to the Pope next, asking his recipe for pizza. We will be Twitter friends soon.

  5. $36.99 for a monthly “viewer” subscription?

    Sure, I’d buy in IF the preview featured your fondest memories of Tim Curry in garters (he did, after all, set the gold standard for Englishman cross-dressing) AND you threw in a sneak peek of your imagination, thinking up responses to the wild comments Joel and I send your way. It’s our job to get your neocortex and thalamus humming, you know.

    And how about that M. Atwood, responding so graciously, and playfully, to your tweet? Wow.

  6. Joel, Pope’s Pizza, yeah: “Heaven’s just a slice away.” Or maybe “Jesus, you’ll never be able to eat just one” or “Pepperoni: Sacred Sacrament or Satanic Circle? You be the judge” Oh never mind…

    Annie, I’m thinking I could probably just have a real-time camera in a bowl of very lumpy oatmeal that jiggled a bit now and then, and you’d never know the difference between it and my humming cortical parts. I will provide a sound track for only $3.99 a month extra.

    Yeah, Margaret Atwood. Pretty durn wild, eh? Or it might be Tom Cruise impersonating Margaret Atwood.

  7. Isn’t it wonderful to see how human and approachable some of the most incredible writers. It helps to see how normal they are because it gives hope that we can be that incredible too. Love it.

    I’m not on twitter but this post made me think that it might not be a bad thing.

    Jai

  8. Jai, it IS amazing. I had a funny little exchange on Twitter with Susan Orlean too. She tweets about all kinds of oddball things.

    I’m spending more time on Twitter these days, but like all social media pursuits, you can get immersed in the shiny flow of things, and find that you’ve done no work all day, so caveat emptor.

  9. Steven, yes, the notebooks of crazy writers, thank you. Lucky for me, no one will ever be able to read my handwriting to discern the degree of my lunacy.

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