Joyce…

explains that each line of the following experiment (minimalist biography) contains precisely 140 characters and comprises exactly one theme


was born in a blizzard, the last baby delivered in a tiny hospital her great-grandmother built, heralded numerologically by 2’s: 12-2, 22:22

grew up on a ranch, riding horses, fixing fence, shooting guns, cleaning stock tanks, breaking ice in winters, and checking water in summers

was a driver at 10, has driven from Tucson to Tucumcari, Tahachapi to Tonopah, has hauled bulls and toted water in split-axle bobtail trucks

excelled in math, writing, literatures, languages, and music in school and hung out almost exclusively with similar academic and music nerds

studied piano, voice, and guitar, sang Rolf in Sound of Music and Billy in Carousel, and won a spot in the Texas All State choir senior year

resided now and then in northern and southern Cal, southern Colorado, western Kansas, southern France, southern Malaysia, and all over Texas

studied on west coast and south coast, but did not coast through her studies in English, Rhetoric, Computer Science, and Business Management

operated an educational software company during the dot-com boom, founded and funded by classmates, friends, and professors from grad school

ran away from a divorce by taking a job in France, not knowing the language or a single soul, feeling exiled and lonely, but also quite free

has flown single engine airplanes with her pilot’s license and jumped out of single- and double-engine airplanes with her skydiver’s license

worked after hours and on weekends to write a dissertation, and to everyone’s astonishment, actually completed it, defending on her birthday

reinvented herself as a professor at 38, wrote a book and several articles, and discovered that she truly enjoys working in higher education

believes in free will, pluralism, open markets, fairness, persuasion, rationality, and the power of communication to make grand ideas happen

was there to see both her parents die two years apart, and realized how lonely it felt to become an orphan, no matter at what age it happens

knew by age 4 that she felt different, then struggled for 4 decades to deny this difference to family, friends, colleagues, and even herself

realized one day when looking in the mirror her cold eyes held no laugh lines, her only wrinkle a vertical crease from her constant frowning

eventually arrived upon the edge of an abyss, somber and foreboding, and shuddered at the possibility that such darkness was her only future

realized only recently just how distant and fearful she used to be, hiding her nature behind blue eyes, academic language, and a stoic beard

lost one friend but gained scores of them upon revealing her true nature, and knows that these friends are integral to her current happiness

works with wonderful, smart, caring colleagues and students and cannot wait to get to work, to experiment and theorize new ideas on rhetoric

has grown quite close to her little sister after our parents’ deaths and coping with life changes, and loves our exchanges like never before

married a partner who completes her, even in odd times, and eventually discovered facets of love undreamed of by earlier versions of herself

has 2 pre-teen boys, as different from each other as fall and spring, and adores watching their critical, emotional, and ethical development

feels as if she has belatedly joined the human race, and now can hardly wait to experience future adventures, relationships, and revelations


Since this exercise can go on forever, once you get the hang of it, I would probably suggest two variations. First is a genre composed of 140 Tweets, perhaps a biography or a philosophical treatise, so that you get 140 x 140 characters, and if you had a really big book to write, you would have 140 chapters, each containing 140 tweets.

The second is a highly refined version of this post, but constraining yourself to an entire biography in ONE TWEET. Here is my effort:

born a farm boy in TX, schooled in CA and TX, worked in France, married with 2 boys, professor of rhetoric, private pilot, changed sex at 46

[see also TwitteRhetoric]