To promote their September 2020 edition, Meanjin Quarterly announced a Pandemic Fiction challenge on Twitter. A one tweet story on the COVID pandemic, using the hashtag #Meanjin280. The prize for the best ten tweets: a twelve-month magazine subscription and publication on Meanjin’s blog. I tweeted three stories.

My first attempt at “Twiction”, flash or microfiction on Twitter, was in November 2017, when Meanjin ran #Meanjin280 to celebrate the introduction of 280-character tweets. I blogged about the writing experience in We Need to Talk (Microfiction), commenting on how the beginning and end of the story came to me first. And all I had to do was navigate concisely from one point to the other.

Three years on, while the three pieces flowed more smoothly from beginning to end, conciseness was still an issue. Perhaps I need 560-character tweets?

Just a Sniffle

Meanjin Pandemic Fiction - Just a Sniffle

COVID Conspiracy

Meanjin Pandemic Fiction - COVID Conspiracy


Meanjin Pandemic Fiction - Unprecendented

Pandemic Fiction Feedback

Just a Sniffle received a sharp rebuke from one of my Twitter followers who tweeted back, “GET TESTED!” Thankfully our follower-friendship was restored when I let her know the tweet was fiction for #Meanjin280. But I was proud it had triggered the response.

I had fun with COVID Conspiracy, contrasting anti-left conspiracy theories with the universal need for a social welfare safety net. But my favourite piece was Unprecedented. Oh, that the story’s premise world leaders had united in unprecedented efforts to defeat the pandemic and cushion its economic impact was not fiction!

Share Your Writing on

The Meanjin Pandemic Fiction challenge inspired me to write and tweet three pieces of microfiction. And, regardless of the judges’ decision, to subscribe for a 12-month digital subscription to Meanjin’s quarterly magazine and support other writers.

The challenge closes at the end of August (2020). I don’t need the subscription, but fingers crossed, at least one of my stories makes the Meanjin blog. I’ll let you know …

The Winning #Meanjin280 Tweets

Meanjin published the winning #Meanjin280 tweets on their blog on 2 September (2020), and *big sigh* none of mine was among them. But on the bright side, the tweets were all worthy winners. And, I wrote one more Pandemic Fiction piece, fittingly titled, New Normal before the challenge closed:

New Normal

Meanjin Pandemic Fiction - New Normal

Although my tweets didn’t make the #Meanjin280 winners’ list, I wrote four new pieces of microfiction AND subscribed to Meanjin’s quarterly magazine thanks to the challenge. And that’s something to be doubly grateful for during this wretched pandemic!

© 2020 Robert Fairhead

N.B. You might like another blog post on longer-form microfiction, Microfiction Dream (August 2018).

Note: This post originally appeared on the Tall And True writers’ website.

This post was proofread by Grammarly


Welcome to the blog posts and selected writing of Robert Fairhead. A writer and editor at the Tall And True writers' website, Robert also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast. In addition, his book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media, and he's published several collections of short stories. Please see Robert's profile for further details.


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