If politics is the last resort of a scoundrel, writing is the first resort of a masochist. Pain can deliver instant gratification – without leaving your pupils dilated – if you sit banging at the keyboard in the interim. I discovered my first words after a broken ankle, but I recommend a broken heart. You’ll stir up a novel in a couple of years and send it out into the world, and then it’ll come, bigger than the swollen ankle: the harrowing wait to find a publisher. One day, the much-awaited mail will pop up in your inbox and you’ll jump for joy. You’ll sign on the dotted line and tell your friends. But remember, you’ll have to keep waiting while it metamorphoses, ever so slowly, into a book with hands and feet and a little dust jacket.

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