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Columbia author Steven Wise wins autobiographical tweet challenge

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | 7:55 p.m. CDT
Steven Wise is the winner of an autobiographical Twitter competition started by Irish author Frank Delaney. Wise, a real estate appraiser in Columbia, is also a published author.

COLUMBIA — Steven Wise's favorite novel he has written is 288 pages long, but his award-winning autobiography is a 140-character tweet.

The Columbia author told his life story in one tweet as a response to the Story of Your Life Twitter Challenge.

“To me, it’s impossible to tell anyone’s life story in one or two sentences, or one or two pages, or even a book,” Wise said. “But it was an exercise and it grabbed me, and I wanted to give it a go.”

Wise beat hundreds of other Twitter users who submitted their autobiographies with the hashtag #140mystory for the challenge. 

His tweet reads: In spring I sprang at the stars, springing at the farthest; in winter I tiptoe at the nearest, knowing of distance.

The contest was created by Frank Delaney, an Irish author and broadcaster whom National Public Radio has dubbed the “most eloquent man in the world.” He announced Wise's triumph Monday on his blog.

Delaney said Wise has "a massive talent hiding behind that one sentence." He praised the tweet as smart, poetic, tender, and imaginative and suggested that Wise use it as the opening line to his book-length autobiography.

Wise, 64, who also works as a real-estate appraiser, said creating the tweet was an introspective experience.

“There is a tiny element of lament in it,” he said. “But at the same time, the process of reaching for stars at whatever level has been wonderful and I’m thankful for my life.”

Wise said the tweet provides a realistic view of growing up.

“I think when we’re young and we’re naive to some degree, we reach and look for stars and jump at them,” he said. “At this point in my life, I am more introspective. It’s not that I’m not optimistic; I’ve seen a lot and done a lot and read a lot and know a lot that I didn’t when I was young.”

Wise is still waiting for his prize to be delivered by ground mail. He doesn't know what it will be but expects a signed copy of one of Delaney's novels. Delaney insists on keeping it a surprise. 

Wise has written several novels, including "Chimborazo", a love story set in a civil war hospital. His most recent work is "From The Shadows of my soul", a collection of short stories. 

Delaney said he created the contest as a way to engage the readers of his blog. 

"I wanted to do something that made people feel involved and feel connected," Delaney said. "If I could get people to start telling the stories of their lives, it would surely engage them."

He limited the autobiography to a tweet in order to push people's imagination. He also had a practical reason for not asking for full-length stories. 

"Do you realize how long those emails would be?" he asked, laughing.

If you cannot see the Storify below, click here.

Supervising editor is Richard Webner.


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