ONE: Written anything new yet?
ONE: What? Nothing?
TWO: About that amount, yes.
ONE: That’s ridiculous.
TWO: Have you written anything new?
TWO: Well, there you are then.
ONE: Yes, but there are two problems with that.
ONE: First, I’m not the hottest thing in literature since J. K. Rowling.
TWO: And second?
ONE: Alright, I admit, there was only one thing wrong with that, but it’s so important it could count as two things.
TWO: Do you mean physically hotter than J. K. Rowling?
ONE: That wasn’t what I had in mind, but that certainly applies.
TWO: Oh, I don’t know – she’s not all that bad. She’s looking good for her age. A bit bookwormy, maybe, but passable.
ONE: Yes, well, we probably ought not to get into what that says about you.
TWO: It’d make a change from you complaining about me not having done any new writing.
ONE: Ah, yes, but whilst I’m happy to provide encouragement for your work, I am not, in fact, your therapist. Neither am I inclined to hear about your fantasies involving successful children’s authors.
TWO: They’re not fantasies, per se…
ONE: Stop! Stop! I don’t want to know!
ONE: So what have you done today?
TWO: Not much.
ONE: As I thought. You’re just wasting time, you know. The advance won’t last forever.
TWO: I know.
ONE: And you do have a deadline to work to.
TWO: I know.
ONE: So, where’s the new book then?
TWO: Somewhere. Out there. It’s in the ether.
ONE: So, not actually a physical object then.
TWO: Not as such.
ONE: Is it even an idea yet?
TWO: More a collection of ideas that might make an idea.
ONE: The ghost of an idea.
TWO: No, the ghost of an idea is what’s stopping me having a new idea.
TWO: My last book.
ONE: First book.
TWO: First. Last. Whatever.
ONE: Okay, but what about it?
TWO: It’s not finished.
ONE: What do you mean it’s not finished?
TWO: It’s not finished. It’s not over.
ONE: It’s been published. It’s been read by millions of people, and you’ve finally come home after endless hours of promoting it in various places, all of which made you sounded like you were in the arse end of nowhere. That is when I could get you on the phone at all.
TWO: My network is very bad.
ONE: You mean you’re too cheap to upgrade to a decent model.
TWO: If I chose to live my life without the trappings and frippery that others indulge it, that’s my choice.
ONE: Yes, but you have to acknowledge the impact that has on the rest of us who don’t mind the trappings and frippery for the convenience of the thing.
TWO: It’s not convenience. If it were convenient for me to talk to you on the phone, I’d have phoned you.
TWO: Oh, don’t pout.
ONE: I’m not pouting. I never pout.
ONE: So are you going to do any work at all today?
TWO: I’m working right now.
ONE: Forgive me, but it looks to me like you’re standing staring out of a window. I know that many receptionists undertake that as one of their many burdens, but I’d have thought that writers were generally more involved with putting ideas into words, and words onto page.
TWO: There you are then.
TWO: My words are not on the page, for my ideas are not words.
ONE: Very poetic. Tell that to the publishers.
TWO: I shall, if they call me.
ONE: That wouldn’t be any good.
TWO: Why not?
ONE: You’re busy living the high life of staring out of window, without the trappings and frippery in your life brought about by possession of a functioning mobile phone.
ONE: Is that what you’ve been doing all morning?
ONE: Staring out of the window.
TWO: Not all morning, no. I made coffee once or twice.
ONE: I give up.
TWO: About time.
ONE: I mean, you’d have thought you’d want to write something new.
TWO: I do.
ONE: Then why spend all your time staring out of the window?
TWO: Not all my-
ONE: When you’re not busy making coffee.
TWO: As I said, I’m collecting data to turn into ideas, which will become words to put down on the page.
ONE: And that involves staring out of a window drinking coffee does it?
TWO: Right now, yes.
ONE: Look, I know I’m not the talented author here-
ONE: But wouldn’t you be better served not looking out of the window, and writing even the smallest of ideas down.
ONE: I see.
TWO: Do you?
ONE: No, but I’ve past the point where I can be bothered to argue with you. If you don’t want to write something new then that’s your problem.
TWO: I told you, I do want to write something new, but at the moment I am dealing with the ghost of an idea.
ONE: What are you on about?
TWO: People think it’s easy having written a book. They assume that the hard part is the writing of the book, and then it’s all easy street. They get the book, fresh and new smelling, in their hands at the bookshop, and they appreciate that a massive effort went into this work, and they take it home, lovingly, and read it. And then they’re done. They want to know where the next book is, and what happens in it. What will you do next as an author? They don’t realise that when you’ve written the book you have to let it go, and inevitably you wonder what you could have done differently, and what happens to characters you spent years perfecting after the end of the story. Readers don’t think like that, that’s the province of the writer.
ONE: You’re experiencing grief at the loss of the future of the characters you created?
TWO: In a word, yes.
ONE: Then write a sequel.
ONE: Write a sequel. Answer your unanswered questions. Give the characters more time. That’s in your power. The readers can only imagine the character’s future – you can set it in stone.
TWO: I know, but what’s the point?
ONE: What’s the point? What’s the po-! I give up. That’s it. I’ve had enough. You’re mad. It’s all circles within circles and wheels within wheels with you.
TWO: Are you suggesting that I reason like the song Windmills of Your Mind?
ONE: If that would stop you doing it, then yes.
TWO: It’s a bold and controversial theory.
ONE: Enough to make you stop?
TWO: I doubt it.
ONE: Well, I live in hope.
TWO: Don’t we all.
TWO: Do you know there are a group of adolescents out here who look very suspicious?
ONE: That’s suspicious compared to a grown adult standing looking out of a window for an entire morning, disappearing sporadically only to return with coffee and an expression of speculative disinterest, is it?
ONE: Must be very suspicious then.
ONE: What are they doing?
ONE: What are they doing that makes them suspicious?
TWO: Oh nothing. Sitting down.
ONE: Sitting down?
ONE: They’re sitting down suspiciously.
TWO: Against all probability, yes.
ONE: And that has what to do with anything?
TWO: Nothing at all. A mere observation.
TWO: Do you really think I should write a sequel?
ONE: If that’s what you want. You’re the writer.
TWO: Only historically. Not currently.
ONE: I thought you were collecting data.
ONE: Which so far includes that youths are capable of being suspicious even when sitting down.
TWO: So far.
ONE: If you want to write a sequel, and deal with the ghost of your past idea then do so. But write something before one of us cracks.
TWO: I am not convinced that hasn’t already happened.
ONE: Frankly, neither am I, but it’s a pleasant daydream.
TWO: I suppose so.
ONE: At least come away from the window, even if you don’t write anything new.
TWO: I like it here.
ONE: Well, if I can help at all, let me know.
TWO: You can tell me if I should write a sequel or not.
ONE: Yes. If writing a sequel will make you happy then write one. If starting to write a sequel will allow you to write a completely new set of characters instead, once you’ve laid the ghost to rest, then it’s for the best.
TWO: I’ll do it.
TWO: I’ll get to work straight away.
ONE: Even better. I’ll help. What do you need – notebook? Pen? Laptop?
TWO: A cup of coffee would be great, thanks.
Copyright © 2011 by Nicholas Palmer
All rights, including professional and amateur stage performing, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved.