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What’s With The Microfiction?

Regular visitors here may have noticed a steady stream of microfiction with references to Mastodon and #WritingPrompts. What I’ve been doing is participating in something that happens on Mastodon courtesy of author E.W. Doc Parris. It’s a chance to writing something short and share it with an audience.

What It Going On?

Every day, Doc posts a #VisualWritingPrompt. The image is something he creates using MidJourney. That image is then used as the inspiration for writers to create a microfiction story, in the science fiction genre. The stories are up to 480-ish characters in length, the typical maximum size for a post on most Mastodon instances.

Doc usually sees a half-dozen responses to his visual writing prompt. I’ve not responded to a couple, only because I just couldn’t come up with a story. I also expect that, at times, life will intervene and I will miss one on occasion. But so far, I’ve replied to most of the ones I’ve seen. They always get some kind of community response, typically either a favourite/star as well as a boost/repost.

Why Do It?

I have two motivations for participating. One is the obvious one: to write something every day. But it’s also about trying to find the non-obvious story, to look at an image and think “okay, there’s the obvious thing we’re seeing. But what else could that image represent?” It’s a creative challenge. On one (that will be coming in a few days), Doc observed that all the responses were very dark, despite the image being rather upbeat and cheerful. In my case, I felt that the “happy story” was too obvious, and that finding something darker and more ominous was more of a challenge. Apparently the bulk of the responses that day had the same line of thinking.

But what is the other motivation for posting? It’s to preserve them so they aren’t lost if (more likely when) I move to a different Mastodon instance. I want to make sure that these don’t disappear during the transfer to another server.

Moving In Mastodon

One of the benefits of the Fediverse, of which Mastodon servers are a part, is that you can move yourself to other instances or servers. When I joined Mastodon, I picked the “most obvious” choice, the mastodon.social instance. It was the first, and it’s the biggest. Since I wasn’t exactly sure how it worked, I took the path of least resistance.

But now that I know more about it, I’m thinking that I will move to a server that is closer to the kind of community I think I want to be in. More specifically, I’m probably going to move to the defacto “main server” for Canadians, mstdn.ca. There are a lot of people there that I follow, and that have started to follow me. It seems to make sense.

The problem, though, is that when you move instances, you can only move your followers and following lists, along with the list of followed hashtags, blocks, mutes, and other configuration data. What you can’t move are your posts. Those have to stay behind on the old server. Rather than them simply “fading away”, I felt it best to re-post them here as well.