Tweet your creative responses to ‘loss’ and be a part of this new digital writing project.
On Twitter recently the #LossLit hashtag has caught my eye and I’ve noticed people tweeting micropoems and microfictions to do with ‘loss’. There’s a #LossLit evening tonight at 9pm (GMT) so I’ll be tuning in to Twitter and following the hashtag. I might even contribute some microliterature if inspiration strikes. In the meantime, curious to find out more about what #LossLit is, I got in touch with its co-creators, Aki Schilz and Kit Caless, who have kindly agreed to answer a few questions. If you’re a fan of reading and writing microliterature or are interested in the literature of ‘loss’ or just simply curious about a new digital venture, read on!
Hi Aki and Kit. So, what is ‘LossLit’?
Aki: Hi Josephine, thanks for having us. #LossLit is a new digital project that invites Tweet-length creative responses (in the form of flash fiction, micropoetry, non-fiction or imagery) to the theme of ‘loss’. It’s open to all and came out of a conversation I had with publisher Kit Caless (Influx Press). We decided that there was a space for writers to think creatively about a theme that drives so much of literature and human behaviour, and our initial Twitter evening attracted hundreds of submissions from around the world. There’s clearly a great creative energy to be tapped into, here.
Kit: LossLit is a fairly loose term that defines any literature or writing that explores the idea of ‘loss’. Be it the loss of someone, something, a concept, an experience, a memory. Having said that, Loss doesn’t even have to mean being relieved of something that once was. You can experience the loss of something you never had.
How do people take part?
Aki: To take part, you’ll need a Twitter account (though we have exciting new developments in the pipeline to expand the project beyond Twitter). Simply tweet your story or poem using the hashtag #LossLit, and check out the other stories already on Twitter by checking the stream, or by going on our Storify page. There’s no need to have your own Storify account, Kit and I take a look every now and then and drop new #LossLit stories into the page.
What’s happening tonight, Wednesday 13th August at 9pm (GMT)?
Aki: Tonight, August 13 9pm GMT, will be the first of what we hope will be a regular #LossLit evening, every Wednesday at 9pm. Kit and I will be checking in throughout the week to pick up any other Tweets we may have missed, but Wednesdays 9pm will be the place to check for all new submissions and we’d really encourage writers to read each other’s tweets and if you like something, get in touch with the writer, RT; make connections.
Kit: We’ll send out a weekly reminder, the rest is up to Twitter. We hope eventually the Twitter side can run on its own steam and we can concentrate on the other side of things: a brand new zine, an online space for LossLit, etc.
Are you going to choose which tweets to include in your Storify or will you include everyone’s contributions? Are you going to order the tweets to make a narrative on Storify?
Aki: When we started just over a fortnight ago, we included all of the #LossLit tweets. Since then, we’ve had hundreds of submissions and almost 2,000 views of our Storify, so it’s not been possible to feature everything. We try to select Tweets that reflect the diversity of responses to the theme, as well as showcasing writing we find interesting, high quality, promising, or that has that special something about it that makes us want to give it a platform within this project. There’s no narrative, but as Kit mentions, we’ll be creating and eventually commissioning more LossLit material so we’ll see where we go from there. And as you read through, you realise that really, there is a narrative, with many of the tweets mirroring each other or complementing each other. There’s a beautiful synchronicity to it.
Do you mind if poems and stories touch on the humorous side of loss?
Aki: On the contrary! Kit I’m sure will have something more to say about this, but we want to open this up to all interpretations of loss, from grief to displacement, crisis, identity, via funnier or pithier commentary and anecdote.
Kit: Humour is very important to this project. Writing about loss can lead to mawkishness and over-sentimentalisation. This is not to say that loss is not a serious subject, but without funny micro-stories we can all get bogged down in the melancholy of the whole thing. The best humour comes in the darkest times, I’ve always found. #LossLit doesn’t have to be anything, but we are aiming to create the widest ranging interpretation as possible. One of the great things about humour is that it expresses feelings in a way that seriousness cannot. As the old adage goes, sometimes you need to approach a heavy subject with a light touch.
What do you think makes a great micropoem or story?
Aki: Good question. Of course much is a matter of taste, but what I really enjoy is something that captures a narrative, or a flash of a narrative, in just a few words. There’s so much room both for revelation and concealment, and I like stories that play with the expectations of these. Economy doesn’t for me have to mean something sparse; I love the idea of harnessing something beautiful and even lyrical in a few lines. The limits of the Twitter page are such that the brain is forced to engage with words differently, to assess the space and think how to fill it to achieve a graceful balance between story and words in what is only really a small window.
Kit: The best micro stories, for me, tell a story either side of the small window of narrative available by the word limit. When I read a great micro-story I’m thinking of what has happened before the story, what will happen afterwards. I end up adding to the story in my own head by the suggested narratives and characters in those 140 (ish) characters.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Aki: Just that we hope people enjoy the project, spread the word about it, and we look forward to developing it further. We’ve plans for a zine as the response has been such that we are convinced there’s a space for this to become an ongoing project that focuses on a different way of looking at and configuring the world. Loss in our time is synonymous with the ruthless sacrifice of civilised thinking for capital gain, with wars and disaster flooding our news outlets, but much apathy or helplessness in the face of it. LossLit offers a space to reflect on this, both on a global scale, and at the macro level. Loss is a human feeling, closely linked to nostalgia, and much of our storytelling is driven by these two complicated thought-catalysts. We want to avoid navel-gazing, but to open up a space for free conversation and reflection. We hope you’ll join in, contribute, and spread the word.
Thanks very much, Aki and Kit, and congratulations on this project. I’ll certainly be joining #LossLit this evening and I’m really excited to see how events develop.
To Recap, here’s what to do to take part in LossLit:
Use the #LossLit hashtag. No need to tweet to Aki or Kit as they will be checking for the hashtag. Follow @LossLit on Twitter for RTs and updates. And Aki and Kit are on Twitter here : @AkiSchilz and @KitCaless. And the LossLit Storify page is https://storify.com/LossLit/losslit-on-twitter#publicize. Let me know if you’re going to take part!