The Twittermorphosis

by Diane Haithman

A female screenwriter heeds her agent’s social media advice with unexpected results. 1,029 words. Illustration by Thomas Warming.

Truth is stranger than fiction, but nothing is stranger than Twitter. Which is too bad because I might be 8547D799-C475-4659-B563-17A9A283F8B3spending the rest of my life here.

That’s right. I’m a successful screenwriter, stuck in Twitter. Find me. @GinaS

Correction: Truth not stranger than fiction, just way more stupid. Especially here in Hollywood.

Backstory: I’m Gina, 42, and I’m good. Writing creds: 2 dramas right out of USC, 3 romcoms and new script (all-girl theft ring on cruise ship).

Beating the odds, right? WGA 2015 stats say 89% screenwriters male. And over 40? Well, I can’t even. But I, Gina Sampson, was nailing it.

Also had boyfriend with no kids, no exes and no mommy issues. At 42. BOOM!

But no, not good enuf for my agent (male). Pious confabs urging Hollywood diversity just made him scared of losing the beach house.

Instead of encouraging me with new Meryl Streep program funding over-40 women in H’wood, my male agent just got more spooked.

So, wait for it: my agent (56, b’day party at Sugarfish) pulls me aside to say I’d seem more youthful if I had more Twitter followers.

Smash cut to me throwing up my yellowfin.

I ask my agent, why is Twitter so important? Social media for actors or reality TV lowlifes, not writers.

My agents tells me to tweet twice daily live from set of my latest project, Smart Girls Ski Club. Still only have 49 followers.

Know who tells us we need Twitter? Twitter. Sorry. Not interested.

My agent lays it on the line: says if I want this agent I’d need 10,000 followers by Academy Awards 2016 "even if you have to blow them."

Did I have a choice? Ironic writer now working in medium of 140 characters.

I’m told there’s TwitLonger. But only for the uncool.

I’m trying to get Meryl to friend me on Facebook. My agent says FB over.

So sad. I’m now trolling for 10,000 Twitter followers even if I have to blow them. Hetero/LGBT, come one come all.

Got a tip from my pool man’s 8-yr-old son (prefers being called she) to search fave topics and follow who pops up.

This is fun, kinda! Searching names of famous writers I’d studied as USC English major. (Didn’t get into film school.)

Amazing how many people tweet quotes from famous writers. FYI, just because u tweet it, doesn’t mean you wrote it.

Just like a fish-pout selfie doesn’t mean your lips really look like that.

So I start with Kafka, my favorite. Plus my absurd new relationship with Twitter brought him to mind.

Yep, they’re tweeting Kafka’s words, too.

Opening of Kafka’s famous short novel The Metamorphosis fits into a Tweet, at least as translated from the German:

One morning, when Gregor Samsa awoke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.

Well, here I am crawling thru Twitter like a Kafka cockroach for followers. Worse than waking w/hard shell and 6 tiny legs waving.

So when Twitter asked a cheery: “What’s happening?” I couldn’t resist writing this:

One morning, when Gina Sampson woke from troubled dreams, she was no longer able to write longer than 140 characters.

Mistake I made was hitting “Tweet” instead of “Delete.”

Very very big mistake. Epic.

I awake the next morning to find … it’s now real. I can’t write anything longer than 140 characters.

Apologies Mr. Kafka – this is worse than being an insect. Stuck in Twitter. Can anybody hear me?

Hey, would-be Twitter followers, u look great. Kale juice? Crossfit?

Silence. Not enough people on Twitter know Kafka. What’s he been in?

Good thing 4 ltr wds only have 4 ltrs: $@%!

My agent now says I made a mistake overusing Twitter. My screenwriter universe blowing a fuse.

Pls retweet my musings so my world will reset. No hashtags. Hate when people say ‘hashtag’ out loud w/finger quotes.

We’ll dig out with spoons like Escape from Alcatraz, all together! Oh shit only 49 followers. No chance.

Terrified, alone, need iced mocha.

But while I’m stuck here, can I talk to u about my new script?

Can’t believe I’m asking Twitter. But not sure screenplay’s twist is working in second act. Notes?

Pls stop tweeting me about yr “miraculous” script coach.

No Awards Season here in Twitter. Tho thinking 140 character limit would be great for winners’ speeches. Better yet, just tweet them.

BTW, searched @God and there’s just this @god who thinks he’s 4ltr-ing hilarious. Still doing Cosby jokes.

Will not search @devil. But will make pact w/Twitter devil to stop doing this for 10,000 followers.

Can hell be worse than LAX?

Career over. Goodbye Malibu, Hello Pacoima.

Hearing rumor that studio execs now want writers to pitch in 140. Maybe to help target millennial audience?

Hey 20somethings, u’ll be sorry when u get stuck on Twitter, too.

Or waste your 140 characters on like, like.

Millennial very long word for Twitter. Oh the irony.

Maybe I need an OTC drug for ages 40+. Will check ads on CBS during Blue Bloods.

Would kill self but 140 chars not enough for suicide note for a screenwriter. Could write it on FB.

I’m now writing a sitcom. Brevity the soul of wit tho twits are soul of Twitter. Ba-dum-bum.

Q: How many lesbians does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: That’s not funny. That’s what the lesbian says. Ha?

OK, lesbians officially over, except in Netflix prisons. Transgender gets Emmys, Oscars, Globes. But don’t know how to tell jokes.

Could pitch a scifi project. Invent alien language like Na’vi. But shorter. Kill apostrophe.

Should we voldemort the snape, Malvoy? Oh crap, that’s Harry Potter.

News: Disney now seeking female to script Star Wars XV in reax to fans outraged over #WheresRey. Me!

But can’t get to agent. Assface is not on Twitter. Unreal.

Try procedurals? Made for Twitter: CSI, NCIS, SVU, WTF.

Get it to trace! DNA! GSR! Now I can’t tweet enough characters…

My last shot: graphic novels. Few words. Giant pix. Comic-Con! But could get me stuck in Instagram.

Pic: Scared face, one tear, Barbie boobs, big hair.

Bye WGA. I’ll miss the free screenings. But if I ever escape Twitter, I’ll write BIG novel, 900 pgs, 27 chaps & 140 characters (that is, people).

This short story first posted on January 20, 2016.

Diane Haithman on twitter
About The Author:
Diane Haithman
Diane Haithman was an LA Times Calendar staff writer for two decades and now is the entertainment reporter for Los Angeles Business Journal. She frequently contributed to Deadline and Awardsline and covered Hollywood for the Detroit Free Press. Her first novel is Dark Lady Of Hollywood.

About Diane Haithman

Diane Haithman was an LA Times Calendar staff writer for two decades and now is the entertainment reporter for Los Angeles Business Journal. She frequently contributed to Deadline and Awardsline and covered Hollywood for the Detroit Free Press. Her first novel is Dark Lady Of Hollywood.

  5 comments on “The Twittermorphosis

  1. Genius! Brilliant!.. and Scary! (Representation follows followers instead of representation follows talent). This should be on HuffPost, and more… I land of Twitter to keep an agent! Lynn

  2. Whipsmart, also wounding – like Twitter, a kind of brutalizing poetry hybrid we live with… the GMO of words = SMS, DM, PM 2.

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