Saturday, August 17, 2013


I've written a novel that contains an infinite variation of themes, narratives, and conclusions. The novel has a word count of about 80,000, the average length for these things, but these words do not come within grammatically ordered sentences in paragraphs on pages. No, the words of my novel come on separate pieces of paper in a jar. The jar also contains little pieces of paper featuring various punctuation symbols. The idea is that you shake the jar, pour out the words and symbols and arrange them. I have been very cunning in my selection of the jar's contents so that no matter what happens, no matter what order the words and symbols come out of the jar, you'll end up reading a story of some sort. The only thing that occasionally goes wrong is that you can end up with two punctuation marks or the same words next to each other or maybe a few in a row. If you are willing to overlook this and place the excess punctuation marks or words back in the jar you get a coherent narrative. It may be a comedy, a ghost story, a family drama or any other genre and it may or may not be to your liking. Whatever it turns out to be, you get a story. It might be the best story you've ever read or the worst or just OK. Like life, your enjoyment is mainly down to random luck combined with the attitude you adopt in reaction to this random luck. However, unlike life, if the narrative is a total pain in the arse or really boring you can give up, put the words back in the jar, shake it, and start again. There's also an app you can download that shuffles and selects the words for you should you want read the novel on your phone, Kindle, or computer. The app is quite good actually because it ensures that you don't get the repetition problem.

The story jar has been optioned by a major movie production company. The people running company are delighted to have the rights to the story jar as it means they'll never have to bother bidding for another book again. All the other production companies are fed up as they're bound to go out of business. Even if they continue to make films, they'll inevitably be done for copyright infringement because no matter what they make it will be a story that could very easily have come out of the infinite range available from the jar. The same applies to all publishing ventures in the future. All authors from this point forward will be done for plagiarism as whatever they come out with will be an exact duplicate of something that could have come from the jar. Of course, there's also some talk of the story jar being done for the same reason by the property holders of every novel that preceded it but our legal team will argue that you can't sue on grounds of potential semantic similarity. In short, the story jar can always plead innocence.

I use the story jar myself. Even though I've written the novels that come out of the jar, I've no idea what they're about or what is going to happen in them. I recently read a historical piece about a sasquatch that captained a whaling schooner off the coast of Nantucket in 1886. Then I put the words back in the jar, shook it, poured out the words again and read a science fiction story about a whaling schooner that Nantucketed a captain off the coast of sasquatch in 8618. Both stories were OK. Did I mention that sasquatches and whaling schooners feature in the all the stories you get from the jar? Well, they do. But this too is like life. Life, as far as I can make out anyway, largely comprises of sasquatches and whaling schooners. 'Hoist the mainsails', 'thar she blows', 'look at the size of that footprint' – this is the stuff of life.

I'm hoping to win the Man Booker this year and all the other prestigious awards in various genres for fiction for all ages. (I've already been awarded the Maltesers Honorary Philip Pullman Prize for deicidal children's fiction aged 8 to 12.) You see, no matter what my story jar novel is not about it's about that too and no matter how bad my novel may be it's also the best novel you ever read. Something for everyone. Unless you're not so interested in whaling schooners or sasquatches. If whaling schooners and sasquatches don't do it for you then you'll probably find the story jar a bit shit. Fair enough. Each to their own. ...wierdo.

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