This week’s Blog: Gone in 60 seconds

Nano-Short Story – or Flick-Story

11.25: This week I am trying something different: don’t say I don’t try and provide you with variety. I wanted to write a short story so short it would fit in one tweet (140 characters) and I intend to do that today. It’s 11.25 and so I am starting now, posting live the stages as I publish in real time.

11.38: Okay, we’re off! I first had the idea of writing a story shorter than flash-fiction or ultra-short stories when I was promoting Too Bright the Sun. I found that when translating into Chinese or Japanese, there were many characters spare after I had composed the tweet: oriental languages that use logograms depicting ideas (far more complex than in the west) are way more economic than Western ones. I wondered if it might be possible to squeeze a very short story into a tweet of 140 characters. I have had an idea floating around in my head for a short story during the last week and it seemed very suitable for the experiment. It’s basically the story of a Catholic Nun who believes the menstrual cycle is murder. So she becomes what some might call promiscuous but to her she is simply doing the work of God. Last night I wrote a very short draft and just now I found this interesting site talking about writing Flash Fiction. However ultra-short or Flash Fiction are stories of a few paragraphs. There are some very nice short ones like the following:

Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?
– Eileen Gunn

but these are not really gramatically correct stories. They are more like witty sound bites. So now I want to develop my story.

11.53: Okay here is the raw story:

Sister Ana was a saint now. She had only told Father Jon, “None of my 38 kids were immaculately conceived. The menstrual cycle is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept for the 39 quiet men in the room.

In fact as I first wrote it down it was shorter:

Sister Ana was a saint now. She had only told Father Jon, “None of my 38 kids were immaculately conceived. The menstrual cycle is murder! I had to have them.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet.

but I guessed this would not use up 140 characters in Chinese or Japanese so I embellished, which I think adds quite a lot. Now it’s time to see just how it works out on twitter. First I will translate the longer into Japanese and Chinese

on translate.goodle.com

Okay well, remarkably, using Simplified Chinese, I still have 40 characters left!! That’s how concise the language is!! Now Japanese: Okay its 9 characters too long in Japanese so I will stick with Simplified Chinese. Just for fun I am going to try the short one in English. Okay it’s 51 characters too long. But I am not going to give up. I want to see if I can shorten it further. Here is version II:

She’s a saint now. She told Father Jon, “My 38 kids were not immaculately conceived. Menstruation is murder! Had to have them!” His was the 39th. He kept quiet.

Let’s see if that fits. Nope still 20 characters too long but promising.

12.03:

Okay try a littler harder:

She’s a saint now. She told Father Jon, “My 38 kids aren’t immaculately conceived. Menstruation’s murder!” His was the 39th. He wept during her canonisation.

Still 17 too long and I think it lacks something if we don’t know she is a Nun; even if I insert the thing about her canonisation. I believe some women have been canonised without being nuns. Just need to check that …

According to Wikipedia the canonisation ‘ process is most commonly used in, although not limited to, the Roman Catholic Church.’

so I guess she doesn’t have to be a nun but it sounds more profound because she then has to deal with the rigours and strictures of her calling. So I want to get that in there.

13.20: Okay how about this:

She’s a saint now. She told Father Jon, “My 38 kids aren’t immaculately conceived. Menstruation’s murder!” His was the 39th. He kept the secret.

Still too long … Another try:

A saint now, the nun told the Father, “My 38 kids aren’t immaculately conceived. Menstruation’s murder!” His was the 39th. He kept a secret.

Yes it fits! I will post at 2pm the English Version. Of course its only a preview of the Chinese version. Let’s go back to that:

13.47: Sister Ana was a saint now. She had only told Father Jon, “None of my 38 kids were immaculately conceived. The menstrual cycle is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept for the 39 quiet men in the room.

In Simplified Chinese this is:
安娜姐姐现在是一个圣人。她只告诉了父亲乔恩,“我的38个孩子没有一尘不染的设想。月经周期是谋杀!我必须有他们,每一个不同的父亲。”他是第39届。他保持安静。在她册封仪式,他39安静的男子在房间里哭了。
and this leaves 40 characters. Let me see if I can improve it:

Sister Anna was a saint now. She had told only Father John, before she died, “It’s nonsense propagated by the Vatican; none of my 38 children were immaculately conceived. I believe the menstrual cycle is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept for the 39 quiet men in the room.

Okay, I think that has everything I want to fit in. Ha! Ha! If I translate it into Chinese and then translate that back into English I get nonsense:

Anna sister is now a saint. Just tell her father, John, before she died, “It’s nonsense spread by the Vatican do not have my 38 children, spotless idea, I believe, is the murder of the menstrual cycle! I must have them, each with a different father.” He is the 39th. He remained quiet. In her canonization ceremony, a quiet man in his 39 room crying.

So I will try to clarify it:

14.00: Sister Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John, before she died, “It’s nonsense propagated by the Vatican; none of my 38 children were Immaculately Conceived. Menstruation is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept for the 39 quiet men in the room.

This is proving much harder than I thought! Chinese doesn’t translate very easily into English. The word ‘the’ often doesn’t seem to be relevant!

The Nun Anna, is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John, before she died. “It’s nonsense propagated by the Vatican; none of my 38 children were Immaculately Conceived. Menstruation is murder! I had to have them, each with a different father.” His was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 other quiet men in the room.

15.00: Nope; I end up with:
Nun, Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to Pastor John, before her death. Spread by the Vatican, “the nonsense, my 38 children had no idea spotted menstruation is murder! I must have them, each with a different father.” He is the 39th. He remained quiet. In her canonization ceremony, he cried. His other 39 men in the room quietly crying.

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John, before she died. “It’s nonsense propagated by the Vatican; none of my 38 children were Immaculately Conceived. Menstruation is murder! I needed to have them. I had each child with a different father.” John’s child was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 other quiet men in the room.

Nope!

The Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “None of my 38 births are Holy. This is a myth. I had each child with a different father because Menstruation is murder!” John’s child was the 39th. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 other quiet men in the room.

This is getting closer!

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Every one of my children was conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” Her child with John was the 39th. He kept the secret. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 men in the room who were keeping quiet.

And another try:

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Every one of my children was conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He kept quiet. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried for the 39 men in the room who were keeping quiet.

This produces this when translated into Simplified Chinese and back again:

A nun named Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to Pastor John before she died. “I’m not a virgin, this is a myth, every one of my children was conceived by a real man, I want kids, because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He remained quiet. In her canonization ceremony, he cried. He cried 39 men in the room to keep quiet.

Very close now.

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Each of my 38 children was conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He stayed silent. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried because he sympathised for the 39 men in the room who were silent.

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Each of my 38 children is conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He stayed silent. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried because he sympathised for the 39 silent priests in the room.

A Nun called Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to the Priest John before she died. “I am not a virgin. This is a myth. Each of my 38 children is conceived by a real man; I wanted children because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He stayed silent. During her canonisation ceremony he wept. He cried because he sympathised for the 39 priests who remained silent in the room.

Success!

This translates into Simplified Chinese as:

一个尼姑叫安娜现在是一个圣人。她只把真相告诉牧师约翰之前,她死了。“我不是一个处女,这是一个神话,我的每38名儿童被设想一个真正的男人,我想要孩子,因为月经是谋杀!”他的儿子是第39届的孩子。他保持沉默。在她的册封仪式,他哭了。他哭了,因为他同情39祭司谁在房间里保持沉默。

which translates back to English as:

A nun named Anna is now a saint. She only told the truth to Pastor John before she died. “I’m not a virgin, this is a myth, each of my 38 children were conceived a real man, I want kids, because menstruation is murder!” His son was the 39th child. He remained silent. In her canonization ceremony, he cried. He cried because he sympathized with the 39 priests who remained silent in the room.

Now just have to see if it fits on Twitter in Chinese: It does!

Okay now all I need to do is Tweet it!

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