'Marks on a Page' by James Burr

The Writer-Who-Had-Never-Written-A-Word had read countless books on writing and on the walls of his bedsit were several large posters, structured outlines of novels he hadn’t written, stories he had not started, each scene linked to others with biro arrows, intricate manipulations of the most ingenious narrative structure of any work ever unwritten.

So he would read and research and plot and outline until one day, writing from life, he came up with the idea of a story about a writer who never gets round to writing anything.  He scribbled down character notes of the main protagonist, someone whose life and mannerisms were much like his own.  He pored through creative writing textbooks and outlined a potential narrative structure; it would be a tale of a writer who never got round to writing anything who has an idea that would be groundbreaking in its literary brilliance, yet the writer is tortured as he knows that he will never write it.

Excited, the Writer-Who-Had-Never-Written-A-Word scribbled down ideas on a piece of A4, linking ideas with arrows, adding others with creased Post-It notes.  He could start in media res, outlining the predicament of his writer who never writes, before flashing back to the past where he could lay the seeds of his theme and outline the anguish of the main lead.  Yes, the story could be about a writer who never got round to writing anything who has an idea that would be groundbreaking in its literary brilliance, who is tortured as he knows that he will never write it, who then writes a tale about a writer never gets round to writing anything who has an idea that would be groundbreaking in its literary brilliance, who is tortured as he knows that he will never write it.

The narrative possibilities opened up before him, as the Writer-Who-Had-Never-Written-A-Word excitedly imagined plots and sub-plots interweaving, a puzzle-box opening, a fractal narrative forming a tapestry of infinite repetition.  He spread sheets of paper across the mucky carpet, slapping Post-It notes between them as his work of outstanding genius developed.  Yes, his story would be one of a writer who never got round to writing anything who has an idea that would be groundbreaking in its literary brilliance, who is tortured as he knows that he will never write it, who then writes a tale about a writer never gets round to writing anything who has an idea that would groundbreaking in its literary brilliance, who is tortured as he knows that he will never write it, who decides to write a story about a writer who will never get round to writing it.

And so the Writer-Who-Had-Never-Written-A-Word feverishly manipulated sheets across the floor, an ever-growing spiral of ideas while on his desk lay his notepad and pan, not a single mark on the page, and ink that would never be used.

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