Beginning a new book comes with an all consuming obsession to get into the heads of my characters as I guide them through the scenery and lead them along a path where facts and historical details emerge to paint the scene.
Once the outline is completed, I 'live' inside the story, constantly writing dialogue as I drive or walk to the shops, creating characters' reactions to events, simultaneously unwinding the film in my head that is their life until it becomes so real, they begin writing their own story.
More than once I had a character who had died before my novel began, but in my efforts to make that person real to my readers, he kept insisting he needed his own voice. He won, of course - his voice was stronger than mine.
Then I reach the second and third draft, and suddenly the enthusiasm dims. Persistence and the slog of editing turn an adventure into a chore, where honing each plot device into succinct chapters that progress the story gets progressively harder. The computer screen isn't blank any more, but the text no longer has any impact and my changes begin to be just that - change for the sake of change. I can always write rubbish - and often do. It's the pithy, characterful, clever insights and crisp prose I aim for which is so often elusive.
Sometime my characters will fight me, and although their actions are what I want of them, they remain bland and uninteresting while carrying them out; like a teenage musician who doesn't want to perform, but cajoled by the adults grudgingly consents, only to go sullenly through the motions.
What can I do on days like that? I have decided - nothing - I have to accept it and move on, and hope tomorrow I will be able to produce prose-filled pages that sparkle and flow with colour and life.
Need more coffee........