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“It’s been too long; I’m not sure I can do this anymore.”

“So make it a pastiche. No need to scrabble around for something new, that wasn’t your brief.”

I looked at Zachary long and hard, but I couldn’t find any hint of amusement or of mischief. That almost made it worse. Bad enough that he wasn’t taking my problem seriously. Ten times worse that he should suggest a pastiche, when he knows that for all the genres I’ve tried, comedy has never been my thing. As well to ask me to write something in French – at least I’d know where to start. But my only challenge was to write something, anything, after too long away, and the blank page leered back at me unhelpfully. I stared at it a while longer as silence settled back amongst us. A pencil whispered unhesitatingly across some luckier writer’s page. Pages turned, big crinkling pages. I glanced round the table again, hoping forlornly for inspiration from those familiar faces.

Zachary’s challenge had been brevity, and he was scowling at his sixth draft, the fifth having been longer than the fourth. Alex had been given a first person brief, to break her usual reliance on omnipotence. If she was worried by the looming deadline, it didn’t show. She was flicking casually through the newspapers. Newspapers? Something new? In the back of my mind, a tendril doubtfully unfurled.

Across the desk, Alex dropped her feigned interest in yesterday’s news, and she too began to write.

The Monday Mixer is back, and for once it hasn’t brought out my evil side. Follow the link to find out what it’s all about.


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