A Note from the Poet
I apologize. Like you, I thought Twitter was for movie stars, egomaniacs, and nobodies in need of giving their inner musings a megaphone. Then I went to a social networking lecture in June of 2011—not because I was interested, but because the panelists were friends and I wanted to be collegial. They were all believers, and cited many examples of Twitter stars with hundreds of thousands of followers, cult-like.
“You’d be good at it,” one said to me on the way out. She mentioned “cleverness,” and “way with words.” And true to what an editor once confided (“An author never forgets a compliment”), I said I’d sign up/sign on—whatever one did.
I posted my first tweet a few days later, coincident with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcing passage of New York’s same-sex marriage bill. That was good; it didn’t reference me, my novels, or the chicken I was fricasseeing. I told my son I was Twittering. “Tweeting, Ma,” he corrected. Soon I had two followers.
The next morning, at my kitchen table, I thought: Political tweets in rhyme? I had bona fi des, didn’t I? I’d had a long rhyming faux valentine “from” Bill to Hillary Clinton published in Huffington Post, and a rhyming homage to Michelle Obama’s clothes that appeared on a website devoted to exactly that topic. I’d been obsessed with presidential politics since my early intense crush on John F. Kennedy, and I had published a series of blowhard op-ed pieces in the Boston Globe in ‘08. So without enough self-reflection, I pledged to post one partisan political tweet a day until the election. I should’ve counted how far away November 6, 2012 was (499 days) and I should have promised only a five-day week. But a pledge is a pledge. I used Yom Kippur 2011 as an excuse to take one day off and am desperately looking forward to Yom Kippur 2012.
Did I have a goal, other than entertaining my fellow political junkies? A book would be nice, I thought. I asked the editor of my novels, who murmured something about shelf-life and putting all her energy into my fiction. I did not, in bookselling parlance, go out with it. Facebook friends often wrote under my daily poems, “Book book book.” I wrote back, “Don’t think so, unless it’s construction paper and yarn.”
Then this storybook thing happened: In Boston, not long ago, in the middle of a very loud party, Beacon Press’s publisher and editorial director (translation: can make a book deal all by herself ) said, “Someone’s doing your tweets as a book, right?”
I said “Why, no.”
“Well, I am,” she said. And exactly four months later, this preemie is born.
Actually, I love writing these. I love rhyming, that out-of-fashion art form. I am proud to have met syllabic challenges like “Blagojevich,” “Callista,” “Tiffany’s,” and to have rhymed “Santorum” in a believable context with “Purim.” I even like the 140-character limit. It’s easier now than it was at the beginning. I tell myself, it’s a daily trip to the mental gym. And no book of mine has been more fun in the making.
I chose my favorites and left out the random ones that stepped off the campaign trail. Actual headlines were added for context and to put the reader on the right bus to Crazytown.
P.S.—I am very fond of the Republicans who buy my novels, and I hope one day to win back their votes. A Selection of Tweets
Michele is NOT a flake, Chris Wallace!
God’s’ endorsement--plenty solace.
The nerve you had* re her IQ.
She went to Oral Roberts U!
*Bachmann to Wallace: apology not accepted
* * *
I Skyped with Herman Cain last night,
& asked if he’d be mine.*
A tad uptight, he didn’t bite.
His answer? “Nein-Nein-Nein!”
*before his lady troubles started.
* * *
A landmark day! A joy to tweet,
His evolution is complete.
Go forth & wed! All “I do’s” equal!
Don’t-ask-don’t-tell gets gutsy sequel.
Excerpted from Tweet Land of Liberty by Elinor Lipman. Copyright © 2012 by Elinor Lipman. Excerpted by permission of Beacon Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.