“I work mostly in the genre of metafiction,” I said, not looking up from my monitor. “I’m not really interested in your story.”
I couldn’t see her face but obviously she was disappointed. A slight whine had started in her throat but she stopped it before it wrapped itself into words.
“As you can see, I’m writing several stories at the same time,” I gestured airily at the document I was working on. “Most of them are about me, writing this story. I’m just going to put you in there. You’re disappointed. There.”
“You don’t understand!” I typed, she said. “This is about you writing this story!”
I stopped and swivelled in my chair, slightly over-rotating. She handed me a piece of paper. “Bit short.”
“It’s just under 250 words. You can read it very quickly!” I skimmed the page, murmuring the words I found interesting, like ‘whine’ and ‘disappointed, tsk, twice’. “See?”
“It’s only 148 words, where’s the end?” at this point a young man I didn’t recognise appeared at my side and handed me another sheet. I rubbed my head, it said, and tried to make sense of what was written there.
“This is nonsense,” he said, slapping the page with the back of his hand. “It switches from the first to the third person, it’s sloppy.” He got up and paced the room.
“Shall I redraft it?” I say, nervously reaching for the sheet.
“No, no, far too late now.” He says. “We’ve reached the word limit.”