27.10.09

Why do I write?

I suppose because I must. The story is in my head and I have to express it. I used to tell myself stories as a child, tell them to anyone who would listen. I'd write plays, enlist my friends to act in them and then charge other kids a penny to come and watch them.

But writing books is a solitary task. People tell me how pale I am, even though I live in Spain. You don’t get much of a tan sitting for hours on end in solitary confinement talking to your computer. Sometimes you’d rather be doing anything, anywhere, rather than sitting there staring at that blank screen. I’ve even been known to willingly get the ironing out, and a difficult bit will always find me in my stationery cupboard having a big sort out. Yet when it's going well I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

When the story is out of your head at last, worked on, improved, polished till it shines, finished, backed up and printed out, the sensation is euphoric. Of course, that doesn’t last long, but it’s wonderful while it does. Before I was published I always imagined that seeing your book on the bookshop shelves was the most exciting part of writing. That’s not the case at all. If you see several copies sitting on the shelf in a shop, you think, oh goodness, it’s not selling. If you see none at all, you think they aren’t stocking it. It’s a no-win situation. The greatest satisfaction comes from actually writing the thing, dispatching the manuscript to the publisher, and starting on the next, always with that special nub of excitement that you experience at the start of every new story. I can’t think of any better way of spending my time.

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