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Playing with Numbers

A fine pen and paper shop in Cambridge, Ontario –– Phidon Pens –– started tweeting just a couple of days ago. Their fourth tweet, at 4:00 p.m. on February 2nd, announced that they were starting a haiku marathon, with the goal of at least one haiku a week for as long as possible.

With a maximum length of 140 characters, it’s easy enough to assume you can’t say a lot in a tweet. But as Phidon’s haiku marathon reminds, a single tweet can easily handle the 3 lines (traditionally, but not always, broken into 5-7-5 syllables) of the minimalist Japanese poem about nature –– the haiku.

It also reminds that as much as we’re working with letters and words when we write, we’re also playing with numbers: the number of characters in a tweet (140); the number of lines in a senryu (3); the number of letters in a word (1–dozens); the number of words in a drabble (100), short story (<15,000), novella (~30,000), and a novel (at least 50,000, but usually 80,000 or more).

Whatever the number of words, the important thing… the most important thing… is how they combine to convey the story being told and the message being shared. Because whether there are 15, 20, 100, 215 or 100,000 words –– there is power in each and every one. And when they’re combined… well, that’s pure magic.