"...over thousands and thousands of pages, with an ant's patience and persistence, Egor had written just one word, repeated constantly, tens of times on each page, in a sequence without beginning or end. It was the word 'no'. 'I've been writing since I was sixteen and I've hardly completed over fifteen hundred pages. Sometimes I write for eight hours a day, but at times I can't write a single line. You might think it's funny, but on occasion I dry up... Because I am not writing mechanically. I want each, and I mean each, of those "noes" to be pondered upon and felt to its very marrow.'"

(From 'The Dream', by Mircea Cărtărescu)

which made me think of this:

"It's not the yellow curtains. Not curtain rings. nor is it bran in a bucket, not bran, nor is it the large, reddish farm animal eating the bran from the bucket, the man who placed the bran in the bucket, his wife, or the raisin-faced banker who's about to foreclose on the farm. None of these is nothing.... And it's not a motor pool in Dib (where the mudmen live) and it's not pain or pain or the mustard we spread on the pain... What a wonderful list! How joyous the notion that, try as we may, we cannot do other than fail and fail absolutely and that the task will remain always before us, like a meaning for our lives. Hurry. Quickly. Nothing is not a nail."

(From 'Nothing: A Preliminary Account', by Donald Barthelme)


"Edgar tried to think of a way to badmouth this immense son leaning over him like a large blaring building. But he couldn't think of anything. Thinking of anything was beyond him. I sympathise. I myself have these problems. Endings are elusive, middles are nowhere to be found, but worst of all is to begin, to begin, to begin."

(From 'The Dolt', by Donald Barthelme)