The Novelist: On Writing

The Novelist lived in a part of the world that was noisier than she would have liked. She made sure the inside of her house was quieter and she lived shrouded in words. They were other people’s words of course, but she borrowed them and put them on shelves that stretched wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-ceiling. Occasionally she would dip in and out of these words and think about how much she liked them, how much she wished she had been the one to pluck those words from the air and put them on that piece of paper in that exact order. How nice it would be, she thought, to be so regularly visited by Inspiration.

The Novelist rarely invited new people round, she preferred the company of her books and selected loved ones, but in the evenings a Stranger would come knocking on her door and every evening she would answer. She hadn’t the heart to ignore the Stranger because they looked so familiar, like a family member who was slightly out of focus.

“Hello,” the Stranger would say. “My name is George Liebenstein. I am a detective, about to solve the case of a man who was murdered locked inside his own panic room. If you invite me in, perhaps you can write about it?”

“Perhaps some other time,” the Novelist would reply. “I am far too busy just now, I have a dinner to make.”

The Stranger would nod sadly and walk off in to the night, his crime still unsolved. The Novelist would go back to the kitchen and finish dinner, which she would eat with her family before settling down with them to watch a television show she didn’t much care for. She thought she could probably write a better one if only Inspiration would come.

The next evening, the Stranger would come again.

“Hello,” she said, because this time the Stranger was a she. “My name is Annabelle Cavendish. I disappeared a long time ago on Christmas Eve and I’ve been lost ever since. Wont you write about me?”

“Perhaps some other time,” the Novelist would reply. “I am far too busy just now, I have to take my cat to the vet.”

The Stranger nodded sadly and walked off in to the growing darkness, never to be seen again. The Novelist took her cat to the vet and spent the rest of the evening scrolling through Twitter but writing few Tweets of her own.

The next evening the Stranger came again and this time there were two of them.

“Hello,” they said in perfect unison. “We are a brother and sister from a future you will never live to see, but we have seen such strange and terrible things. If we tell you, won’t you write about us?”

“Perhaps some other time,” the Novelist replied. “It’s Sunday and that’s my day off from work, I am far too tired to write anything now.”

The Strangers turned away sadly and started their long walk back to a future nobody might ever hear of.

“Wait a moment!” the Novelist called and they turned. “Why is it that so many strangers with such strange stories will not leave me alone?”

“You are The Novelist, are you not?” asked the boy.


“We are your characters,” said the girl. “We hear you calling out for Inspiration and we try to answer you. But you won’t listen to us in return.”

The Novelist made them a cup of tea and sat down with a pen. Their story poured through her and she never had to call for Inspiration again.

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