Naomi Skwarna is a writer and artist living in Toronto. She has written for Hazlitt, The Hairpin, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, The National Post, The Believer, and others. Her first play will be produced next month with the Toronto company Theatrefront. This week Skwarna shared her thoughts on three of her favorite tweets she’s written, plus swimsuits, language, and keeping up with the daily lives of strangers online.
Skwarna: This tweet was just a straight-up thought I had while standing in the shower one morning, letting the spray hit me in the face. Sometimes on those rough days, it’s nice to imagine doing a wholesale value shift, which in the cartoon-iest terms is like moving directly from Smurf to Gargamel. There’s some joy in imagining that all the things you care about don’t matter anymore, and at the very least, having a lol over it can get you past whatever gloom you’re in. Truthfully, I’m way too soft to go even half evil.
Are there places/ times of day (such as the shower) where you find yourself thinking of tweets the most?
Yes. Definitely the shower. Probably also when I’m in that prime hypnogogic state although I usually I immediately fall asleep and then in the morning bemoan loss of “the great tweet.”
What do you find are the emotions or states of mind that lend themselves the most to tweeting?
I would say being really engaged by something I’m reading or writing. I find I do a lot of interior riffing, so looking at my most non-sequitur tweets often take me back to something specific I was writing or researching. They can be good memory triggers. I guess mostly my tweets are little asides in the midst of my ~process~. Also, and this happens a little more rarely now, some of my most fav’d tweets came from either being brutally sad or depressed and wanting to sort of prove that I wasn’t feeling as bad as I did. But then a friend of mine remarked that it was weird that my social media generally projected a sort of sunny or sociable disposition, that she found it kind of two-faced. So I try to do that less now, or maybe it was a natural decline after having been criticized.
I was shopping online for a bathing suit and noticed the number of euphemistic terms for suits engineered to turn you into a dense human sausage. That’s not to say that I’m free of body worries and lord knows I appreciate good evasive language – I just found most of these terms to be, if not shaming, sort of condescending. “Compression” is also such an intense word when associated with a garment that one wears presumably for leisure.
How is your voice on Twitter similar/different to your voice in longer writing and IRL?
Well, let’s really go Inside the Tweeter’s Studio here. My background is in drama, and I came to writing by seeing and reading tons of plays. Plays are mostly dialogical, which is one of the reasons why Twitter has always held such appeal to me – a feed can read like an absurdist comedy at certain moments, with tweets accidentally addressing each other. So, maybe there’s a conversational or “vernacular” quality that my writing and my tweets share. The vernacular being the way internet writing accepts and legitimizes stylistic shorthand, especially when it comes to first-person accounts. The differences are probably that in my other writing, whether that is non-fiction or fiction or drama, I have a different idea of who my audience is. I imagine it as being both more critical and more abstract.
What are your favorite kinds of things to see in other people’s tweets?
I have a real soft spot for silly literary tweets, or tweets that reference people’s very niche interests in a way that presumes understanding. Those make me laugh an awful lot. The Twitter accounts I don’t get tired of offer a sort of running narrative of the tweeter’s life… especially if they’re weird and funny and smart. I follow loads of writers and artists, but some of my favourite accounts to read regularly belong to near or complete strangers who are just really good at serializing their day-to-day activities in a compelling way. A few people like that are @jenpandemic, @frynaomifry, @thebavid, and @erinimmediately. They’re great lifestyle tweeters, and they just feel nice and funny to read.
Generally when underwear begins to sag or tear along the waistband, I’ll put it at the bottom of the underwear pile with… the period underwear. It’s basically a disaster down there, but a reasonable insurance policy for when I don’t want to accidentally make more period underwear. But that means that when I do have my period, I end up wearing bad underwear when it would probably make me feel better to wear something less garbagey. So one day this summer, I came home and peeled off all my sweaty clothes, such a dream on a hot day, accidentally tearing my underwear. Anyway, instead of consigning it to the period pile, I threw it in the trash, which felt very Say What You Wanna Say on that particular afternoon.
Can you think of any tweets you’ve done that were not received as well as you thought they’d be?
Frankly, I’m shocked when any of them get more than three favs. My preferred tweets are probably the most cryptic, and those are generally the ones that get the least play. Still, there is this one from maybe about a month ago that I really thought should’ve gone viral in my humble and very personal and honest opinion. Everyone I coercively showed it to agreed that it was important.
Photo by Erin Brubacher.
Jenny Nelson lives and writes in Brooklyn and works at Funny Or Die.