12+ To celebrate the introduction of 280-character Tweets by Twitter, Meanjin Quarterly ran a microfiction competition. The “@Meanjin Twiction” rules were simple: tweet a 280-character story and include the hashtag #meanjin280. The prize? The top ten stories were published on the Meanjin Blog and the authors paid one dollar a word.
I enjoy the challenge of the genre. There is no time for plot and character development; every word must count. The writer plunges the reader into the story and wrenches them back out, leaving it to the reader’s imagination to reflect upon what he or she has read, what lead to the situation, and how it might resolve itself.
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We Need to Talk
My microfiction piece was spot on 280 characters, including the #meanjin280 tag, or just under 50 words (or $50 if the Twiction judges liked it!). And yet, as when writing longer fiction, the beginning and end came to me first, and I just had to work out how to navigate from one to the other.
We Need to Talk is published on Tall And True (2017), but here's a copy to save you clicking on the link — I hope you (and Meanjin) like it:
White walls, sweet antiseptic, tubes and wires, electronic beeps and the laboured, wheezing breath of my shrunken father.
We need to talk, soon. Not about the future or present; now we’ve only got the past.
But my phone distracts me. I wish we had more time and words!
© 2017 Robert Fairhead
N.B. I didn't win the $50 or get published on Meanjin's blog. But I repurposed the story for another microfiction competition run by the Australian Writers' Centre in August 2019 as We Need to Talk in 29 Words, and [proud puffing of cheeks] this was published on their blog!
A middle-aged dad and dog owner, Robert Fairhead is an editor and writer at Tall And True, and blogs on his eponymous website, RobertFairhead.com.
His favourite pastimes include reading and writing, walking his dog, and watching Aussie Rules Football with his son. He is also a part-time dog trainer and runs classes at his local dog training club and through Robert's Responsible Dog Training.
Robert has worked as an electrician, a computer programmer, and a sales and marketing consultant, and he is the principal copywriter at Rocher Communications.
His book reviews and writing on dogs have appeared in newspapers and online. And in 2020, he published a collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story.
Robert has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.