-If you think you've found your inner novel, please press the delete button, implores Paul McDermott.

A number of people survive in this world under the misguided belief that they have a book in them. Don't take me literally; 400 pages, of 12pt Helvetica isn't clogging their spleen. They don't have a best- selling hardback jammed under their rib cages, pressing against their bladders. It's stored in their heads, hidden in their memories. Resting there is a grand love affair, a little death, joy, sorrow, success and failure - all waidng to be brought back to life, reborn on the page. If we could flesh out our memory, then we would have a definitive tome, a master work that would justify our life, excuse our existence or just sell well. This novel idea has been around for centuries and I am here to tell you it just isn't true. Most of our lives are a waste, why make them a waste of paper too? To be completely honest, most of us don't even havc a novella inside us, much less a novel. Some might have good copy for an ad, a select few the operating manual for a Camira or an episode of Seinfeld, but the great novel will definitely elude most of us. Why is it a book? Why literature? Why can't we all have one fully realised all-dancing, all- singing musical? And why limit this thing to the arts? Perhaps some of us out there have onc great moment of plumbing. One great chest of drawers. One great septic sysrem. We first hear this lie from the over-eager lips of the English teacher. I cannot recall a maths reacher telling us we all had a unique logarithmic progression struggling to get out, or a science teachcr telling us we all possessed the formula for carbon. I was informed of this universal potential in pre-school; what novel did any of us have then? Even now the best I could manage would be a poorly illustrated pop-up book. I once tried to put my story into words but discovered it was a dull read, even for me. I can't imagine what someone else would make of it - less interesting than a shopping list and longer than the Yellow Pages. Some people do have lives worth recording, but I'm stunned that every Australian sporting hero has found a literary voice. I know I will not be popular for saying this, but I don't care - I have never read a sporting autobiography and never will. Apart from lacing their boots or polishing the ball what can an Australian sporting hero tell us about the nature of man?* That he bites in the scrum? He stares in the shower? God was not a team player? There is another tragic aspect for those who find the "great novel" inside themselves. Those who spend years spinning gold from the lead of your lives, those who toil over manuscripts and eat, sleep and breathe themselves. A day will come when you've cxamincd and cross-examined your life, when you've run the spell check and word count over it, when you've dotted the i's and crossed the t's. That will be the day when you stand, mentally naked, with 300 pages of typed A4 and ask: "What d'ya think?" You'll suffer the indignity of getting your life rejected by countless publishers. Receiving your life back in the mail accompanied by a letter: "Sorry Sir/Madam. We find we are unable..." Alternatively your life may return one day accepted in exchange for a paltry advance. It may be transformed into a limited edition run on poor quality paper for thc Christmas market. But before this can happen your life will be editcd by an independent hand. A hand that finds '76 to '85 a dull period and cuts that bit out. Or, they suggest your great novel should be 160 pages shorter. Thankfully most of us will never write a book. We can console ourselves that we are common people and that we have one thing in common: we'll all make it to print at least twice in our livcs. It won't be in a fancy book: it'll be in the local newspaper. There'll be one entry for the start of our lives and one for the end. * I have chosen the "nautre of man" here, rather than "human nature", due to the dominance in Australian sport of the male.

-Many, many thanks to the amazing SP for scanning, correcting, and proofreading this article