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                      ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿                         
                      ³        THE WRITER        ³                         
                      ³   by Thomas Nevin Huber  ³                         
                      ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ                         
                                                                           

ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿ ³ The writer carefully considered what he would write. He pondered the ³ ³ ideas as he sat waiting for his daughter to get off work. He thought of ³ ³ the setting he would use for his story. He carefully considered what he ³ ³ would call his next story. ³ ³ ³ ³ Later that night he sat down before his computer and glanced once ³ ³ again at the page sitting in front of him. A wicked smile crossed his ³ ³ lips as he thought about the audacity of those that had irritated him. ³ ³ ³ ³ He carefully, ever-so-carefully prepared the words that would make up ³ ³ the first page of the manuscript. This was the most important page, he ³ ³ had been told. Without getting this page just so, the material would ³ ³ never be read, would never be considered, would never receive so much ³ ³ as a second thought. ³ ³ ³ ³ He sighed to himself as he sipped the soft drink, being careful not ³ ³ to spill it onto his keyboard. He scratched a persistent itchy nose, ³ ³ backspacing over his mistakes caused by the errant irritant. He chuckled ³ ³ at his (supposed) humor as he typed the words, which in turn appeared ³ ³ magically on the screen. ³ ³ ³ ³ He purposely left the spot blank, opposite his name. He'd get an ³ ³ accurate word count later, produced by his word processor's spelling ³ ³ checker. ³ ³ ³ ³ He finished out his address, and provided two phone numbers – one ³ ³ where he could be reached during the day, and another where he could ³ ³ be reached at night. ³ ³ ³ ³ Then he tapped the Enter key several times with the pinky of his ³ ³ right hand to provide just the right number of spaces. ³ ³ ³ ³ The title. Ah, the title, he thought as he stared at the screen. A ³ ³ smile crossed his lips as he paused, then keyed in the code that would ³ ³ apply the appropriate weight and size to the letters. ³ ³ ³ ³ He typed, `The Writer,' and again tapped the Enter key to drop to the ³ ³ first line of text… ³ ³ ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿ ³ ³ ³ The writer carefully considered what he would compose. He pondered ³ ³ ³ ³ the ideas as he sat waiting for his daughter to meet him after her ³ ³ ³ ³ work. He thought of the setting he would use for his story. He ³ ³ ³ ³ carefully considered what he would call this, his next story. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ Later that night he sat down before his computer and glanced once ³ ³ ³ ³ again at the fax sitting in front of him. A wicked smile crossed ³ ³ ³ ³ his lips as he thought about the audacity of those that barred his ³ ³ ³ ³ way. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He made sure the room was secure and no errant sounds would make ³ ³ ³ ³ their way to the pickup on the screen in front of him. He tapped the ³ ³ ³ ³ record key and carefully, ever-so-carefully prepared the words that ³ ³ ³ ³ would make up the first page of the manuscript. This was the most ³ ³ ³ ³ important page, he had been told. Without getting this page just so, ³ ³ ³ ³ the material would never be read, would never be considered, would ³ ³ ³ ³ never receive so much as a second thought. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He sighed to himself as he paused and sipped the soft drink. He ³ ³ ³ ³ continued, but had to pause several times to scratch a persistent ³ ³ ³ ³ itchy nose. Pressing the backspace key, he watched as it erased the ³ ³ ³ ³ words on his screen, caused by the errant irritant. He chuckled at ³ ³ ³ ³ his (supposed) humor as he respoke the words, which in turn ³ ³ ³ ³ appeared magically on the screen. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He purposely left the spot blank, opposite his name. He'd get an ³ ³ ³ ³ accurate word count later, produced by the word processor's ³ ³ ³ ³ grammar/syntax checker. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He finished out his address, and provided two phone numbers – one ³ ³ ³ ³ where he could be reached during the day, and another where he could ³ ³ ³ ³ be reached at night. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ Then spoke the magic word, "Title" and watched as the program ³ ³ ³ ³ provided just the right number of spaces. The computer paused, ³ ³ ³ ³ waiting patiently for him to speak the words. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ The title. Ah, the title, he thought as he stared at the screen. ³ ³ ³ ³ A smile crossed his lips as he paused, then said, slowly and ³ ³ ³ ³ distinctly, "The Writer." ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He paused, then added, "End title," and again watched the cursor ³ ³ ³ ³ find its way down the screen, ready to add the words of the story ³ ³ ³ ³ to the screen… ³ ³ ³ ³ ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ The writer carefully considered what he would write. He ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ pondered the ideas as he sat waiting for his daughter to ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ finish he day at work. He thought of the setting he would ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ use for his story and he carefully considered what he would ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ call his next story. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ Later that night he sat down in his favorite chair, the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ composer next to him. He glanced once again at the screen in ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ front of him. A wicked smile crossed his lips as he thought ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ about the audacity of those that barred his way. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He picked up his headset, and tapped each of the sensitive ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ pickups. The computer didn't like his actions, and beeped a ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ sour note at him. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He cleared his conscious mind of any stray thoughts that ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ might distract him and put the headset over the crown of his ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ head. It reminded him of a small prayer cap he'd seen worn ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ many, many years before. He couldn't remember the significance ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ of the cap and didn't care. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ The screen reflected his random thoughts in patterns that ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ made no sense. No mind. He hadn't given the all-important ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ mental command to begin. He carefully adjusted the temple ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ and frontal pickups and watched the screen bounce and glide ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ images across it's face. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ For amusement he pictured a pretty girl, then quickly ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ replaced it with a view of his wife, sitting in front of the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ crafting machine that she used to sew, knit, darn, and ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ crochet for her booth in the local craft store. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ Satisfied that everything was in place, he relaxed and ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ cleared his mind. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ "Begin," he uttered to himself. The screen snapped to a ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ page-white display. "Prepare first page heading," he ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ instructed and watched as the words appeared quickly on the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ screen. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ An errant itch distracted him, and as he scratched his nose, ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ the words tore from side to side. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ "Damn," he swore to himself, and watched as the words turned ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ shades of color, and faded from sight. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ "Begin," he reinstructed. He wouldn't let the errant ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ irritant bother him again. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He sighed to himself as he lipped the soft drink straw and ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ was rewarded with a refreshed draught of the liquid. He smiled ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ at his (supposed) humor as he watched the word reappear ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ magically on the screen. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He purposely left the spot blank, opposite his name. It ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ would fill in later, when he instructed the machine to finish. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ Then before the final count was dropped into place, the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ computer would quickly check all aspects of the story, ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ including the plausibility, according to the level of science ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ and fiction he'd programmed earlier. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He checked the material on the screen, making sure the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ appropriate computer address including a target for daytime and ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ nighttime. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He thought `title' and watched as the cursor jumped to the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ middle of the page, waiting for his thoughts. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ The title. Ah, the title, he thought as he stared at the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ screen. A smile crossed his lips as he paused, then formed the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ words in his mind, only to see them appear in the appropriate ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ weight and size on the screen. It read, `The Writer.' ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ The writer carefully considered what he would write. He ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ pondered the ideas as he waited for his daughter to ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ arrive through the transitube from her work. He thought ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ of the setting he would use for his story. He carefully ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ considered what he would call his next story. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ Later that night he sat in his favorite chair and spoke ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ quietly. "Composer," he said, "Prepare the following story ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ for submission to… " he paused as he glanced at the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ reject next to the name on the pad. The corporate name was ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ all he needed. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ "Waiting," the composer spoke back. It had finished his ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ task. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ `Title' ran across the stage of his mind. `The Writer' ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ appeared in bold headlines over the stage. It was set. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He was ready. He began… ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ The writer carefully considered what he would write.³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He pondered the ideas as he waiting for his daughter ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ to arrive at the transport station in their living ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ room. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ The composer prepared the first page, complete with ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ his name, grid location, and job code, in case the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ editor wanted to reach him during the day. ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ He thought of the setting he would use for his ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ story and carefully considered what he would call his ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ next story. The thought struck and was set into the ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ machine. The story would be, `The Writer.' He ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ pictured the opening sequence… ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ ³ ³ ³ ³ ³ ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ ³ ³ ³ ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ ³ ³ ³ ³ The writer was satisfied with his results. Keying the 'send' key, he ³ ³ let the manuscript feed through the modem, to come out the other end, in ³ ³ the editorial office, complete, with proper typography, spacing and all ³ ³ just like the editor wanted it. He leaned back, then looked over at the ³ ³ rejection letter and chuckled. Ah, if it were only so easy… ³ ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ

(Author's note:)

Background: This story was written as the result of receiving a 

rejection note from a major SF magazine. Initially, I took the letter as a slap in the face because of its condition. It was a very bad photocopy, with the street address of the firm whited out and typed over. It wasn't that I was upset that they didn't accept the story; they didn't have the courtesy to send a "clean" rejection slip.

After the initial irritation, I started reading the letter, and I 

realized how badly it had been composed. Not only were these folks in the publishing business (and had been for many, many years), but I really expected decently written material from them. After a few hours and in the meantime, going after my daughter, I came up with the idea for this story.

In its current form (as a text file), you can't really get the full

intended impact. Copiers, as most of you know, tend to lose the quality as you make copies, one generation after another. Therefore, each story within the story is supposed to be printed in a lighter print until, at the end, you can barely make out the words.

That was the way I sent the story to the magazine, along with a letter

telling them what I thought about their rejection notice. I did not offer the story for publication to them, and didn't hear anything back. A later story (BRADLEY) received a new rejection letter, so I think I made my point.

                             #  #  #

Copyright 1994 Thomas Nevin Huber, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Tom Huber is rapidly approaching middle age (50). Involved with computers since the early '60's and has been employed as a technical writer for a major computer manufacturer for over 12 years. Previous works include numerous user, installation, service, & tech manuals, and magazine articles. Hobbies include genealogy and running his bbs. Look for a major series of SF novels, prerelease title, STAR SPAWN. Many shorts are related to the series.



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