Everyone wants you to read the book on which he or she is working, a novel everyone is writing in order to find the meaning of life, with which everyone’s spouse ran off. But everyone has to finish the novel before everyone can know where the novel begins. In the meantime, there are all these distractions, such as the twelfth-floor window at the office building where everyone works out of which people or maybe just one person keeps jumping or falling--everyone isn’t sure--or everyone’s sexy coworker Sam, whom everyone is struggling valiantly against to keep from becoming a paramour. It’s kind of pitiful, actually, the way everyone keeps begging you to read, sending you e-mails, dropping it into conversation (“I have a book, you know?”), posting links to it on social-networking sites. Everyone figures that if he or she begs enough, you will break down and try it. Everyone is like a dog that way, watching you eat your dinner. The way you handle the dog is to push it away from the table, lock it outside the room. Sometimes, of course, you hand the dog a bite, an inch-sized bit of beef, and that is all everyone is asking for--a bite, that you read just the first line of his or her book. The problem is that you know everyone too well. If you read one line, everyone will beg you to read another. Just one more.

To start from the beginning of the novel, go here.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Everyone Publishes a Novel against Protestations

The Internet warned everyone not to post his or her novel on everyone’s blog. The Internet had many reasons for this. One was that blogging was not conducive to narrative fiction. “Think about it?” the Internet said. “How do you read blogs? You read them from the latest post backward, so if you come to the blog midnovel, you start midnovel. No one wants to start midnovel.”

Another reason the Internet gave was that rather than building an audience, the blog would likely showcase just how small everyone’s audience is. “Are you really going to want to keep writing when you see that only three spambots have read your blog?” the Internet asked.

Everyone pondered whether the blog was chiefly for him- or herself or for an audience. If everyone was looking solely for the meaning of life, did it matter? Would the meaning of life come to one person alone or did it necessarily have to involve hundreds? thousands? millions?

“Also,” the Internet continued, “no one is going to buy the book if it’s already available online for free.”

The Internet was too focused on capitalism, everyone thought. “Doesn’t information want to be free?” everyone asked. Everyone was being sarcastic.

But the Internet was already on to reason four, which was that novels are best written when rewritten. “If you’re going to post the novel,” the Internet said, “at least finish it in advance. Don’t take the chance you’ll quit and leave your miniscule audience hanging. And don’t think you won’t want to change plot and character and setting details from chapter 2 when you get to chapter 18.”

Everyone grimaced. Everyone wanted to be a published author right now. Everyone was not going to wait until the work was complete. That was ridiculous. What was the point of keeping a blog if everyone had to write everything in advance.

“Finally,” the Internet warned, “online forums like blogs are generally more suitable to the visual medium--images and video--than to straight written text. So unless your novel has pictures, you can forget about people staying very long.”

Everyone had pictures. Everyone thought often about posting them. Everyone thought also, however, about legal ramifications. If everyone’s employer or children or spouse saw the photos, what would happen? Would everyone be embarrassed? Would everyone be sued? Hadn’t the Internet given any thought to that?

Everyone was going to write this blog novel and post it as it happened, for fifty-two weeks, no matter what.

The Internet took a deep breath and sighed. The Internet was tired of communicating with people who wouldn’t listen.

Everyone believed he or she would be an exception. Everyone’s thoughts would come out in a proscribed order, and a growing set of someones would want to read those thoughts sans photos, and an agent would buy the work even though it had already appeared online because, hey, who ever wanted to read an entire book on computer?

Everyone was actually rather annoyed at the Internet. Who did the Internet think it was? Who did the Internet think everyone was? It didn’t know everyone--not like some people knew everyone, not like everyone’s friends and coworkers. They would read everyone’s blog, and they would tell others.

And besides that, everyone was looking for the meaning of life. And that was the main thing that mattered. Everyone suspected that the meaning of life was devoted to blog novels, that the meaning of life scoured the whole universe of blogs looking for them, when it wasn’t running away with everyone’s spouse.

Everyone pressed “publish” on the screen. Everyone watched the blog take shape before him or her. Everyone said, “Come to me, you miserable-excuse-for-a-being meaning of life.” Everyone waited for comments.

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