#TwitterFiction recap

What follows is the full text of the “story” I posted today as part of the #TwitterFiction festival:




This is not the story I’m supposed to be writing. (#TwitterFiction 1/66)


Nor is it a story I particularly WANT to be writing.(#TwitterFiction 2/66)


I pitched @TwFictionFest (&wrote) a tense multi-character hour long drama called Free Charlton Connors (#TwitterFiction 3/66)


The tale of a desperate man named Atlee Connors who seizes a bank to demand his bro’s release from prison. (#TwitterFiction 4/66)


In the story,”@AtleeConnors” live-tweets as he takes hostages, negotiates w/ cops. etc. (#TwitterFiction 5/66)


I was excited about it. (Excited & nervous) (#TwitterFiction 6/66)


But then two weird things happened, related to this story (#TwitterFiction 7/66)…


…which together pitched me into a spiral of confusion and dread (#TwitterFiction 8/66)


[Preface this by saying that I am under the BEST circumstances a welter of self-doubt and uncertainty (#TwitterFiction 9/66)]


First of 2 incidents: Mon. eve., checked phone during #LegoMovie, had email from man named “Atlee Connors” (#TwitterFiction 10/66)


[Same name as character from my planned story)  (#TwitterFiction 11/66)]


Email was sent vis the Contact Form on my website (BenHWinters.com) (#TwitterFiction 12/66)


It was the WEIRDEST AND MOST AWFUL communication I’ve ever received. (#TwitterFiction 13/66)


Basically someone sent this guy a link to publicity about @TWFictionFest and my story http://twitterfictionfestival.com/schedule/hostage-situation-real-time/?timezone_string=America/New_York— (#TwitterFiction 14/66)


—and he is super pissed. Also deranged. And ALL CAPS. (Next 2 tweets quote the email NSFW).  (#TwitterFiction 15/66)






The rest I kid u not is about the dude’s plumbing company being audited & how the government hates True Christians (#TwitterFiction 18/66)


There are people prob who would shrug this of thing off, but I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE (#TwitterFiction 19/66)


I read the email over and over in deepening panic and horror. I felt sick. (#TwitterFiction 20/66)


I considered a polite return email (“dear clearly insane man, thanks for taking the time…) (#TwitterFiction 21/66)


I considered changing the name of my story or the character “Atlee Connors”(#TwitterFiction 22/66)


But I couldn’t just change name of 1 character, since 2 lead characters are BROTHERS…(#TwitterFiction 23/66)


and the TITLE of the story has their last name in it (#TwitterFiction 24/66)


AND I’d set up all these fake Twitter handles (inc. @AtleeConnors), they’d been “cleared” by @TwFictionFestival… (#TwitterFiction 25/66)


AND the whole thing had been publicized by me & @TwFictionFestival & @QuirkBooks, posted on schedule etc (#TwitterFiction 26/66)


AND I had already changed my whole story idea & had to resubmit to @TwFictionFesival once already! (#TwitterFiction 27/66)


[And had  felt REALLY bad about it: I’m conflict-averse, nervous about how I’m seen as a writer & a professional) (#TwitterFiction 28/66)]


Considered consoling possibility that angry email was fake (joke by @ADamZucker? @BWesthoff? @EricSmithRocks?) (#TwitterFiction 29/66)


But not in character for most of my friends. Stayed up late gripped with anxiety. Do I have ENEMIES? (#TwitterFiction 30/66)
Tues. morning I defaulted to lifelong habit of cowardice & inertial: archived crazy email, did nothing. (#TwitterFiction 31/66)


I got back to work on new novel + putting finishing touches on “Free Charlton Connors” (#TwitterFiction 32/66)


I worked at @IndyCENLibrary—tried to work—working under the dark shadow of “real” Atlee Connors (#TwitterFiction 33/66)


Thinking will he see the story? How will he feel when I show “him” murdering strangers, blowing up a bank? (#TwitterFiction 34/66)




Skinny dude/shaking hands/ overalls/matted hair/pale skin/ twitchy eyes. Pushes me against library pillar (#TwitterFiction 36/66)


He comes right up in my face, grabs my shirt with both hands. His teeth are all fucked up. (#TwitterFiction 37/66)


Backstory: I have written tons of violence but have NO experience. I am a coward. Dread discomfort let alone pain (#TwitterFiction 38/66)


Dude has got some kind of kitchen knife peeking blade-first out of the front pocket of his overalls. (#TwitterFiction 39/66)


And Of COURSE i’m thinking “It’s him! It’s him! It’s Atlee Connors!” (#TwitterFiction 40/66)


Worst part (except for the knife): The dude is shouting “Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare!”. Over and over. (#TwitterFiction 41/66)


Just raving, muttering and raving; prob. schizophrenic or paranoid, maybe coming down off something or going up. (#TwitterFiction 42/66)


But to me, at that moment—and now, still, sort of—I was convinced. “Holy shit it’s him.” (#TwitterFiction 43/66)


“I’m sorry,” I said. Pure cowardice. Pure fear. “I’m really sorry. It’s OK. It’s OK.” I was TERRIFIED.  (#TwitterFiction 44/66)


At last he lets go and spits on steps & stalks down steps of the library (#TwitterFiction 45/66).


I clutch the side of the building, trembling, in the shadow of the donut sculpture. (#TwitterFiction 46/66)


Driving home my panic slowly subsided & gave way to melancholy; a well of grief & confusion opened up inside me. (#TwitterFiction 47/66)


I was sure of it—it was impossible, but I was SURE that the man on the steps was the man who had emailed me— (#TwitterFiction 48/66)


& I was sure moreover that he would torment me forever, because from his (madman’s) perspective I was his NEMESIS (#TwitterFiction 49/66)


I’d picked his name at random & implicated him in a crime he was innocent of—a crime which had never existed (#TwitterFiction 50/66)


I’d stepped across some line separating make-believe from reality, & the prospect filled me with sadness and horror (#TwitterFiction 51/66)


I felt as if I had invented a character who’d become real— (#TwitterFiction 52/66)


—an avatar of all my anxiety about being a writer, trying to make a living in a world of pretend (#TwitterFiction 53/66)


It was like from Grimm’s or Poe or @StephenKing: the murderous double, the dark self made flesh & given a weapon (#TwitterFiction 54/66)


I was lost in these complicated shadows, feeling obscurely scared, baffled, defeated, lost— (#TwitterFiction 55/66)


—certain I had to back out of @TwFictionFestival, maybe I had to back out of being a writer in general— (#TwitterFiction 56/66)


When I realized that THE GUY HAD STOLEN MY WALLET. (#TwitterFiction 57/66)


I laughed. I mean, I freaked out, but I laughed. (#TwitterFiction 58/66)


Here I was, contemplating the Borgesian oddness of my situation, mulling the blurred line between truth & fiction (#TwitterFiction 59/66)—


Having a little narcissistic writerly pity party for myself— (#TwitterFiction 60/66)


& my tormentor was back at library park using my 65 bucks and chance to get high! (#TwitterFiction 61/66)


And so there you have it, dear Twitter: the story of a desperate man named Atlee Connors. (#TwitterFiction 62/66)


Not the SAME story of a desperate man named Atlee Connors that I had planned, but it’s better. I think it’s better. (#TwitterFiction 63/66)


I think it has something to tell us, though I’ll be damned if I know what. (#TwitterFiction 64/66)


The only moral of the story I can think of is: that dude’s got my Geico card, which has my address on it. (#TwitterFiction 65/66)


So if this is the last tweet I ever send…you know why. (#TwitterFiction 66/66)



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