Saturday, 21 November 2009


I went to London yesterday. I was meeting Paul Stewart at the Royal Academy. I decided to walk to the station rather than cycle and on the way I did I what I do in pretty much all of my spare waking hours - I worried away at the story I have been writing.

Sometimes this process is like whittling a piece of wood, honing it and perfecting it, sometimes its like trying to catch a trout with you're bare hands, another time it can be like doing one of those wooden puzzles where the pieces will only work if put together in one particular way.

I love writing, and this part of it - the sketching things out in your head, is very much part of what makes writing a compulsion for me. I am aware that I have always done this - for as long as I can remember.

As I was walking past the Botanical Gardens I had one of those lovely moments when things just come together. An idea popped in to my head like a cartoon light bulb being switched on. It will amount to no more than a sentence or so in the book, but it will change the whole thing. As I have said many times before, I think it's important - vital - to be surprised by your own work. It is why plotting can be such a killer.

Writing isn't about plodding on towards a predetermined end. It isn't one long methodical steady labour. Or not for me anyway. It is hard work punctuated by dizzying spells of effortlessness. You push and push and then suddenly there's no resistance. You struggle up the hill and suddenly you're whooshing down a snowy slope on a sledge of your own devising.

Of course, you know in the back of your mind you are going to hit a tree at some point. But still - its fun while it lasts.

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