As the Author reclined on a comfy sofa, he said, "The question that's been on my mind recently, is where on earth half of my story ideas come from."

The Psychiatrist nodded, for once intrigued by a patient's magnificent eloquence. "Do you think this is a natural feeling?"

"Yes," the Author replied and cracked his neck. "I mean, half the stories are actually somewhat witty – but the wit is concealed underneath about a foot of obfuscating vocabulary, and occasionally phonotactics."

The Psychiatrist coughed loudly and excused herself on the pretext of getting a drink of water, but actually she looked up the words "obfuscating" and "phonotactics." She returned with a few more neural connections, and proceeded with the appointment. "And the other half of your stories?"

"The rest are simply random. I don't understand how I justify writing them in the first place."

"I see," said the Psychiatrist, quickly flipping through a couple samples of his writing that she had clipped into his file. She immediately decided that the Author was much too geeky to be attractive to her. "They certainly don't fit the bill of… literature."

"Exactly!" cried the Author. "But the most perplexing thing is that the random ones get the best reception! It's almost criminal how much people like them."

"You feel guilt because people approve of your works?"

"They're approving the wrong ones!"

"And they approve of the wrong ones because they don't understand the right ones?"

"Exactly!" the Author chimed. This Psychiatrist really understands me, he thought.

I haven't got a clue how to help this poor soul, mused the Psychiatrist. "How exactly do you determine which bits of fiction are 'the wrong ones'?"

"Have you ever heard the phrase 'jumping the shark'?"

Suddenly a giant flaming parrot smashed through the wall of the clinic and began devouring secretaries. It devoured secretary after secretary as flaming bits of parrot feather set fire to various surrounding buildings. Within seconds, the entire city of New York was a conflagration so spectacular that for miles around the –


"Hold it, hold it," said Simon, interrupting Tim as he read his latest bit of fiction to the writing group. "That escalated quickly."

"Exactly," said Tim. "I feel that it creates a sense of out-of-placeness with readers, and –"

"It creates a sense of this-is-rubbish, is what it does!" cried Simon. "I don't understand half of what's happening from a cause-and-effect standpoint, let alone a literary standpoint!"

Daphne laid a hand on Simon's heaving shoulder. "Settle down." To Tim she said, "I think what you should do is explain what's going on, and why you did it?"

The confused Tim tried to regroup. "Can you be a little more specific?"

"Why did you name the main character 'The Author' instead of something traditional?"

Tim's mind snapped back into focus – this was his territory. "Ah yes. That is quite intentional. Instead of trying to hide the story, I'm trying to draw attention to its existence, in a metafictional sort of way. Which is ironic because it's actually a really good story."

"It's a load of rubbish story, is what it is!" cried Simon. "In what universe does a giant flaming parrot devastate New York!?"

"In no universe! That's the point!"

"I still don't see why –"


"Honestly, though," said the Reader, exiting his browser in disgust, "what sort of plot consists of people debating the merits of a horribly written narrative? What made you think I would ever read this?"

"Maybe it wasn't intended to be read?"

"What did I just do then?"

"You've desecrated a piece of art!"

"By trickery!"

"Yes, but –"