#47: Epitaphs and Tweets, by neni demetriou

It’s been just over a year since I tweeted, “Master of Fine Arts in Writing from the California Institute of the Arts: Check.”

It’s been just under a year since I tweeted, “Well. Just landed in New York.”

“If you want to be a writer then move to New York,” is the best advice I have ever gotten from my favourite professor at CalArts. “Or Paris,” he added, but I had already been to Paris—alors, c’est ça. Growing up in Cyprus and being educated within the British system then leaping halfway across the world to live my dream of being a writer in Los Angeles has led to this: falling in love with Manhattan from the very first time I set foot on the island. (I write about New York City often while still keeping my British spelling.)

“I don’t think you should work in publishing,” was his second piece of advice. But I’m a writer, isn’t that our dream job? I thought I wanted to be Sandra Bullock’s character from The Proposal and be on a first-name basis with Don DeLillo. I wanted to move to New York City and do this.

Well, I did do this; only this wasn’t that. This was flying to New York and finally understanding what my professor was talking about when he advised me not to work in publishing. As a writer, I live in my own head for hours on end—far too many hours for what is thought to be healthy—and I get lost in my thoughts while I’m out for dinner or drinks; I completely tune out the world as I dream up sentences in my mind. Needless to say, I’m severely socially awkward. So I realized I didn’t really want to live in another’s world for months—that wasn’t for me; not when I needed to do my own writing in order to save my soul.

This was rerouting my career path and continuing my literary journey on the side with Slice after two years of working with Black Clock and a short summer affair with BOMB Magazine. This was immersing myself into a whole other aspect of the literary world: social media. I had seen the publishing world begin to shift as an MFA student. I watched as authors came to us and read from their manuscripts; watched as they read and spoke to us about the phenomenal evolution of Twitter and Facebook and their relationship with those platforms—how it brought them closer to their readers. And now, as a graduate, I finally understand what they were talking about.

Social media within the literary sphere is a curious little organism. Now, sitting behind my computer screen and interacting with authors, editors, literary agents, and readers from all over the world allows me to experience a literary microcosm.You see, I’m the one behind the Slice tweets. I’m the one who sits and reads article after article on my way to work; the one who retweets and favourites on her lunch breaks, and the one who schedules what goes up the following day after the commute home. I’m the one who interacts with you online; the one who recommends literary events and asks you about your thoughts. The one who wants to know—every single Friday afternoon—what you are reading. I’m the person who has developed an online relationship with you—kind of like all those writers that came and went while I was at CalArts—and asks you for book recommendations because I’ve been in a reading slump since February 2014.

And, perhaps (probably), choosing to go down this path is the decision I was supposed to make.

Because books are a big love of mine but I was meant to write.

Being a writer—actually getting to be a writer—is writing and editing and being horribly depressed and listening to Lykke Li on the subway while you’re going home on a Thursday night; it means being overwhelmingly moody when there’s a full moon. It means losing yourself for a while and begging the voices in your head to “please, be quiet. I’m so very tired.” It means desperately wanting your words to give you a stable salary but knowing that living in a world that sees writing a hopeless hobby, your answer will always be, “I write on the weekends.”

So I’m going to continue to tweet and attend literary events around the city until I move to London in a couple of weeks. (London tweets, perhaps?) But while I’m leaving behind the jungle city that gave me my own personal fairytale as the city of Angels gave me two dreamy years, all the tweets that were written inside my mind on the M86 while I travelled to Yorkville from the Upper West will live on the world wide web. 

And, perhaps (most important of all), I’ll say “See you soon,” to the love of my life. 

A beautiful, less-than-140-characters epitaph of our New York City love affair.

neni demetriou is a Greek-Cypriot fiction writer who fell in love with New York City after living in Los Angeles for two years. When she’s not tweeting for Slice, she likes to watch football (ahem, soccer), go sailing, and spend her time with her dogs. Her work has appeared on the Black Clock blog and Trop. You can follow her dramatic thoughts on Twitter at @iNeniSpencer.