'Dilemma' by Susan McDonnell

They didn’t publish my last one. And I LIKED it. It was trite, certainly, but that didn’t make it any less acceptable. How can I please these people? I’d love to get just ONE in.

I know. A pithy piece about not being published. What about that? It would be ironic, quirky, individual, and perhaps different enough to be …No. No. For goodness’ sake, being derogatory about what’s gone before isn’t a great way to endear oneself to anyone, let alone the…but should it be about endearing oneself? You want to stand out, to be noticed, dare to be DIFFERENT – but without using such hackneyed phraseology.

They’re looking for fiction. Yes, but is this really fiction? Perhaps, since it’s a piece about fiction. Perhaps not. Meta-fiction? Drawing attention to fiction for fiction’s sake? Where is the message? What is this exercise except an attempt to arrange efficient concise lies so as to challenge and delight-or sometimes disgust and annoy- the reader? Now here’s a thought. This fiction IS a fiction. It doesn’t exist.

Good enough.

No, best stick to narrative. It’s what we think of when we hear the word ‘fiction’ anyway isn’t it? What kind of fiction will people READ? Chick lit. A bolus of frothy pink stuff about people who need to find themselves and do so while meeting the love of their life and learning something about how certain things like money, high powered glamorous jobs or the PERFECT Louboutin heels are not a prerequisite to fulfilment?

God no.

Then what? A spy story? Encryption codes, conspiracy theories? Please. Or the next Irish crime sensation? Gloomy pathologists in dimly lit morgues who cultivate idiosyncratic habits and a strange tenderness that comes from hanging around dead people all day? Heroes who are really cut up inside, presumably by all that grit? Or perhaps a person (gender stereotypes aside) who can implausibly wield a ten pound broadsword through all this nonsense and still come out with a Gorgon’s head dripping steaming blood and a patent for a new environmentally friendly weedkiller.

What the HELL will I write about? Perhaps the fact that I read too much junk? There it is – a challenge to the reader to be more discerning, to read something improving, perhaps subject oneself to a classic, or something avant-garde every now and then. Too much effort? Oh, by all means make the SAFE choice and write something two- dimensional that will certainly only challenge the really bored.

I know – something pithy, a lesson cleverly masked in metaphor. Oh, who am I kidding, too transparent unless skilfully done. I ain’t that skilful. I guess I’ll just have to search for inspiration elsewhere. She lived to fight another day, so to speak.

Ah, and desperation rears its head – science fiction. Aliens, viruses, weightless nookie, the good old temporal anomaly, cybernetic pulchritude, who lost the keys of the spaceship? Nah, I’m not good at comedy.

Wait for another idea to come along? Only course of action left.

I’m hungry.

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