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  • I have finally understood why I haven’t made any bestseller list yet, nor am I going to do so in the foreseeable future.

    I read today that Dan Brown wears gravity boots and hangs himself upside down for a while, until inspiration knocks at the door. Other writers, among whose numbers one finds Victor Hugo and Lionel Shriver wrote standing up; the French author of Les Misérables further got his valet to hide his clothes and practised his craft in the altogether. Philip Roth walks half a mile for every page he writes. Roald Dahl used to slip himself inside a sleeping bag before he sat at his desk, and Truman Capote could only write horizontally, alternately puffing on a cigarette and sipping a cup of coffee with one hand and writing with the free one. John Cheever wrote in his underwear and Franzen could only write when he listened to pink noise, which is a form of white noise at a very low volume.

    I own to not following any of the practices of those luminaries. I have no technique, you see. I usually recline on a divan sofa with my laptop on my legs and bash away; I have no idea how long I work for at one stretch. On rare occasions I suddenly realise that I should have started cooking lunch an hour ago. Often I forget what I am supposed to be doing and indulge in Freecell or Solitaire. Sometimes I have music one, often I alternate between writing and solving a crossword puzzle or a Sudoku. Occasionally in the middle of a sentence I have an idea for Cowbird, drop everything and set to work upon it (which is what I am doing now). I am often embarked upon two different projects. For example at the moment, I am trying to write a play inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Secret Agent, but in the context of current bomb attacks, and at the same time I am dealing with stories from The Memoirs of Irene Adler, due for publication in a few weeks.

    So as you can imagine, there is very little chance of my making that list.

    (There was a time when I lived in Bedfordshire, when I would drive to Ashridge Forest between bouts of writing, and that helped. Now it's too far. The photograph is by my friend David Beeson who still lives there. He is a truly interesting blogger; no one I know encapsulates the British zeitgeist as he does. I recommend you to check out RANDOM VIEWS BEESON)
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