I am sitting here in my gloriously sunny back garden, at the end of a long, and hastily constructed, electrical tether, the batteries of this ageing Powerbook being insufficient to allow me a significant amount of time in which to attempt this painful creative process. I have never managed to figure out why I find writing so difficult when a constant stream of words from my mouth is my natural state. I suspect that it is a matter of posterity and plausible deniability. Once the thoughts are down in a persistent form, they are open to scrutiny, analysis and judgement. Writing things down imbues them with extra weight, by the very act. Spoken words can be rushed through (or said in a silly voice) if they are considered (by the speaker) to be flippant or unworthy. Once they are written down, they have the same objective weight of any other words in the same context. It is up to the reader to attribute a weight to them. This means that even the least critical reader applies a process of assessment and judgement, merely in the establishing of a context. For the hapless and terrified writer, this is far too risky a prospect in his craving for approval and external validation. So, what is he to do?

I propose a universal system of Smileys to be applied to all literature!

If this was adopted merely by the terrified among us, it would become evident to readers that these authors were the meek and the weak, and to be, at best, avoided and, at worst, ridiculed. Therefore, it must be a ubiquitous system, applied back through the entire history of writing. Obviously, this is a mammoth task, on a greater scale even than Project Gutenberg. This fine institution would naturally be our starting point, giving us both a massive, already digitised, body of work with which to demonstrate the principle of the idea and a body of skilled contributors who could be bent to the task.

There is, of course, an awkward contradiction in applying this scheme to the works of authors who are no longer with us, whether through death, alcoholism or alien abduction. If the author is not able to annotate his own work, then it is down to one of the aforementioned critical readers to do it for him. I believe that this is a situation which cannot be helped and, although counter to the inital proposition of this laudible scheme, is necessary to promote its adoption and future success.