Did you ever wonder why my Twitter handle is "@outfortune" instead of the more prosaic (and presumably still untaken) "@kozeniewski?"
I don't know if people know (or care) that my Twitter account used to be a gimmick account. For years I put off getting on Twitter because I couldn't think of a reason to. It seemed to me that Twitter was a stage for people who could come up with clever ideas like "Shit My Father Says" or the imaginary Mayor Emanuel. Then, one day, my friend Rick from work (who you may know as the inspiration for "Maverick, LCSW") and I went to the Chinese buffet for lunch.
At the end of the meal we opened our fortune cookies and read out some of those lame, latter-day fortunes that you get nowadays. "Follow your heart" or "Open yourself up to new ideas" shit like that. And the discussion centered around how lame fortunes have gotten.
See, back in the day, I found fortune cookies genuinely appealing. I don't even eat them now, because they're so lame. But back in the day fortune cookies would make bold statements, like horoscopes. "You will find love with a redhead tonight" or "Money will come your way if you don't yell at the landscaper." I mean, they were stupid, but they were conversation starters, as any good bit of prognostication should be. Will I really find love? Are fortune cookies just stupid? It was something you could sit around and discuss at the end of the meal.
Now, though, they're completely bowdlerized. Who's going to have a conversation about following your dreams or staying true to your heart? I mean, I guess I understand. Maybe the fortune cookie companies got sued. Maybe they just realized peddling predictions was a bit unsavory. I don't know. But they have changed significantly in recent years.
And then it struck me. An actual idea for a Twitter account. Old-fashioned fortune cookie fortunes, except they would be wildly inaccurate, sometimes physically impossible. Outrageous Fortunes. It all came together almost instantly. And I went home that night and wrote out about ninety outrageous fortunes.
This was all in 2011. For two, maybe three solid years I clung to the Outrageous Fortunes concept. I was sure it was going to catch on and be the next big thing. I tried to make topical jokes. I tried to use hashtags to get them trending. But most of all, I figured that quality product will find an audience, which in those days was always told to me as gospel.
I still think it was a quality product, but it never caught on. Most of my books haven't caught on, to be frank, and I know those are quality products. The people I can wheedle into actually reading them are pretty universal that I have talent. So I don't believe a quality product will find an audience any more. I don't believe that just slaving away, making something good in obscurity will ultimately lead to fame. I think you have to go out there and find your audience, shake them down, stalk them as time stalks us all. Waiting for something to catch on worked for Emily Dickinson and Franz Kafka, and they both died before ever knowing it. I don't want to take that risk. Do you?
Anyway, that's a bit of an aside. So what happened to Outrageous Fortunes? Well, BRAINEATER JONES happened. When I got published I knew I should try to get the word out any way I could about my novel. So I tweeted my 200 or so followers that BRAINEATER was out, even though I had sworn Outrageous Fortunes was going to be a novelty account and would only ever tweet, well, outrageous fortunes.
And then tweeting once for release day turned into tweeting once for a sale. Then into sharing my friend's work. Then into signing up for Thunderclaps because I didn't want to clutter up my personal Facebook feed. Then people started responding to me and I started responding to them. And, gradually, my novelty account was taken over, whole cloth, by my burgeoning writing career. And that's why I have such a peculiar Twitter handle.
It's sad to think that Outrageous Fortunes is gone. That it's evolved into something no longer recognizable as what it once was. But I reached a point after a few years where there was just no more juice to squeeze out of the lemon. I don't think I could have kept coming up with outrageous fortunes if I'd tried. Of course, that's not to say I don't have another novelty account, quiescent, waiting in the wings...
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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