favorite words: a twine poem

Over the summer, I made a poem with forking paths. You can read it over here.

I made this in Twine, a piece of free software for making interactive stories. I’d been aware of Twine for a little while – this piece by Porpentine got me excited about it – but it only recently occurred to me to try it for a poem.

Here is something about Twine: it’s fun. It’s rewarding to set up paths, to choose dead ends and forking stories, even if the text around them is abstract and loose. And here’s something about writing: practicing it for years, in tandem with voracious reading, is a recipe for constant doubt of whether you can accomplish anything new or even worthwhile with it. It’d be disingenuous to say I doubted myself less than usual while making this, but the fun blunted the edges of the doubt.

The poem started from my friends’ tweets. This one, one Saturday, set off a conversation about favorite words, and this suggestion soon followed the thread. I made a spreadsheet of people’s names and the words they’d listed. On a 13-hour train ride, somewhere in Ohio, I opened Twine and titled passages with a few of the words. The paths spiderwebbed out from there. It struck the balance I’m always looking for: taking a thing seriously enough to spend time doing it, but not so seriously that I paralyze myself with doubts and fears. That’s when I fall into procrastinating and never put anything in the world.

For more on fear and writing poems, this essay struck a chord or a few. I’m linking it there as a reminder of writing, and being afraid to write, and being more afraid not to.