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- When you began writing in your adult life, it felt like coming home. Back then, it was less like work than happiness, a return to the sunlit playground. That innocent pleasure has faded with the need to earn a living but even now, on a good day, there is nothing quite like it.
- You are alone. When you started out, you might have gone on a creative writing course which peddled the myth of teamwork, consultation and “feedback”. You have discovered, as you grow as a writer, what nonsense that is. Yours is a private project. If anything, sailing your rackety little boat as part of a flotilla actually increases the chance of it sinking.
- You are unreliable, a spy in the house of those you love. You may believe that you do not use the real world, sometimes with unattractive ruthlessness, but you do. Sooner or later, the stuff that really matters to you will appear in some form in your writing.
- You have an interest in stationery that borders on the obsessive. You may have developed a similar fascination with the new technology, but you would probably be wise to guard against that.
- You write a book, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. It turned out not to be the perfect work you once envisaged but, for better or worse, it has reached its destination. If you are lucky enough to be asked to talk about it months later when it is published, you will see it from the outside, almost as if it has been written by a stranger. Your mind is on what you are writing now.
- You know that your best work is in front of you.
- You wake up one day and discover that the excitements and disappointments involved in being published have become little more than a sideshow which, if taken seriously, will drive you round the bend. Success and failure very often involve things over which you have no control: luck, fashion, timing, being published by a marketing genius (or moron).
- You find yourself, rather shamingly being rather sparing when you write letters. You are not being paid. It is not part of your work. Words are your capital.
- You may not be terribly good socially. Because much of your most intense experience takes place in your writing, you can have a semi-absent air about you which others may, with some justification, find irritating or rude. This personal dysfunction can mess up your marriage, your family, your life. Sometimes you worry that one day you will be alone with only your words for company.