Gordon Lish “Bot” Takes His Red Pen To Twitter

by Katie Sharrow-Reabe

Gordon Lish will now critique your morning musings, commuter complaints and feigned attempts at appearing to know it all. At least, an algorithm-driven facsimile of the famed editor and author will. The Gordon Lish twitterbot challenges you to write a single sentence that would knock his socks off.

Twitter has the illusion of ephemerality, and for many, its sole purpose is for sharing intimacies off the cuff. But the truth is that every sentence, however banal, is captured forever next to your personal avatar. And worst of all, Twitter gives you a slight 140 characters to express yourself. So perhaps you ought to put a little more craftsmanship into your next tweet. OR Books thinks so and plays up Lish’s reputation to push your tweets into new territory.

A criticism offered by @Gordonlishbot

“We hope that unleashing the Gordonlishbot on Twitter will help do for social networking what Mr. Lish did for an entire generation of writers and thinkers: shock them into paying attention to the smallest, most basic components of their craft at all times,” says Justin Humphries of OR Books, the publisher behind the bot. Lish believes that you should start your writing with an attack sentence, which provokes and propels a story forward. The intention is not to stop there but to follow with even more provoking sentences. Sounds easy enough. Give it your best shot: Tweet your sentence and include the hashtag #attacksentence.

Coincidentally, OR Books is publishing a collection of Lish’s stories, Goings, available next month. The collection is Lish’s first completely original work in 16 years.

Even more so, Electric Lit’s own Recommended Reading is publishing a story written by Lish (the real man, not the bot) tomorrow. If you haven’t already downloaded the app, find it here.

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