The novelist trudged through the world trying to forget his sorrows. It is better, he mused, to forget one’s sorrows, if one has sorrows to forget. But in the novelist’s case, he had nothing else he could remember.
The novelist felt annoyingly stereotyped.
He stopped on a the hillside, and shouted at the sky. ‘Why must I be sorrowful? Who wrote the stereotype?’
The sky did not answer.
The enormous face that appeared in the clouds did.
‘You wrote the stereotype yourself,’ said the enormous face in the clouds. ‘No one believes in anyone’s stereotypes except their own.’
This was a startling admission from an enormous face in the clouds. The novelist wondered if he were going mad, and hallucinating. He wished bitterly he could hallucinate more interesting things, like psychedelic butterflies that sang Bach.
The novelist shook his fist at the enormous face in the clouds. ‘You’re mad! Absolutely loony!’
‘Well, don’t blame me,’ said the enormous face in the clouds. ‘I’m just narrating. If you don’t like the script, you should sue the Scriptwriter.’
‘Why should I tell you?’ the enormous face in the clouds demanded. ‘You wanted a quest, didn’t you?’
The enormous face in the clouds disappeared with a quiet pop.
The novelist sat on an outcropping stone, and considered. If he found the Scriptwriter, he could challenge the Scriptwriter to an heroic duel. Alternatively, he could sue the Scriptwriter for libel. Alternatively to the alternative, he could continue trudging aimlessly and trying to forget his sorrowfulness.
None of these options particularly thrilled the scriptwriter.
He wished he had the option of building a space ship and flying to Mars, like Ransom. Or dropping by for a pint at The Green Dragon, like Pippin. Or even going on a voyage to the North Pole and having a profound spiritual experience, like Diamond.
But those were other novels. He was stuck in his own.
He hoped, with sudden terror, his novel wasn’t somehow indebted to The Truman Show.
The novelist swung his legs, and stared ruminatively at the valley before him, dotted with clumps of fir-trees. Whatever the case, he thought, he could reasonably predict that if he did decide to do battle with the Scriptwriter–whoever the Scriptwriter might be–he would shortly find a mentor to teach him the necessary arts of combat, magic, or lore, or whatever. His novel was genre enough for that.
If he decided to sue the Scriptwriter, he would probably find a good lawyer.
That might either change the genre entirely, or insert a categorical haphazard act of chaos into the existing genre, for which no one in their right mind dare be responsible.
He shuddered, leaped to his feet in an heroic pose.
‘I will find the Scriptwriter,’ he declared, ‘and do battle with him for his lousy stereotyping. Of me, in particular.’
He trudged over the crest of the hill, and found a hut in the woods pretending to be an innocuous hut in the woods instead of the hideout of a powerful enchanter.
The novelist sighed. ‘Stereotypes.’
The door open, and an aged mentor in a long robe shuffled out, leaning on a magic staff.
‘Er, hello,’ said the novelist.
The mentor looked up, eyes a piercing blue. ‘You come seeking wisdom, training. I can give you that, if you are prepared to learn.’ She smiled.
The novelist realized with sudden exuberance that the first of the stereotypes had begun to change.
‘Yes!’ he said. ‘I’m ready!’
The old enchantress smiled again. ‘Well, the first think you need to know is how to boil the kettle. I prefer PG Tips over Tetley, but the main the to remember is to put the milk in the mug first, so it won’t scald…’