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Breakup Tweet Challenge: Meet your judge

Ladies and gentlemen, may we present your judge for our Breakup Tweet Challenge: Globe and Mail and Elle Canada columnist—and pithy tweeter extraordinaire—@TabathaSouthey.

Tell us about yourself.
I began writing about 10 years ago, sporadically for the National Post but only began to consider writing to be my job nearly 8 years ago when a book review I wrote for The Globe and Mail landed me a monthly humour column with Elle Canada—which is a bit of a dream gig. In a tidy circle, my Elle Canada column landed me a Globe and Mail column, "Tart," a news and opinion column which runs in the Saturday Focus section. I live in Toronto and am also the author of two children’s books: The Deep Cold River Story, and It Must Be As Tall As A Lighthouse. 

When did you first start using Twitter?
I joined Twitter about 3 years ago, full of disdain, of course, and I was certain I wouldn’t actually tweet myself, but I knew the CBC’s delightful Kady O’Mally (@kady) was on Twitter and I wanted to follow her committee live-blogs and some other news sources. Minutes after I joined, she asked a question and I happened to know the answer. Of course I Tweeted back to her and it’s like jumping rope, once you jump in, you keep skipping.

What is it about Twitter that inspires/entertains you as a writer?
Twitter is the closest thing I’ve found to being in a room with a bunch of comics—it inspires the same pace. An idea, or joke builds, and is expounded upon the same way. A quip, as it turns out, is 140 characters long. The enforced brevity of Twitter curtails the curse of the Internet—which is that it gives everyone unlimited space to write and they will keep trying to fill it.

How do you use Twitter?
Twitter is great for breaking news, I think not just for speed but for the candor from both journalists but, occasionally politicians—some frequently step away from talking points if only to comment on a song or a story that’s unrelated to their portfolios. It rounds out the picture.

What advice would you give to writers taking the challenge tomorrow?
I would advise contestants tomorrow to tweet their best work, not all their work, if only not to exhaust their followers. Sometimes mulling an idea over a while really improves it. Also a tweet is like a little fish, you tweet it, it swims off into the stream, and is retweeted all the way to the ocean. Proofread your fish. Be funny. Don’t be cruel.

What's your best breakup story? 
I’ll only say that I think I perfected the 140 character breakup long before Twitter. No point in hanging around. Every word spoken kills a sweet memory. “Bye” is only 3 characters, you can always add one “x”.

How would you have felt if we had made the challenge a "love tweet" challenge instead?

Can you give us a breakup Tweet to throw down the gauntlet?
I wouldn’t dream of it. Possibly the best thing about Twitter is that it’s a meritocracy. The best tweeters, many anonymous, emerge from the fray. I love stumbling upon Twitter bright sparks and look I forward to reading many tweets much better than anything I could write.

The Canada Writes Breakup Tweet Challenge is open from 10 am to 10 pm on Tuesday, February 14. 

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