I got a call from one of my favourite writer friends this morning.
He sounded morose.
“I can’t write anymore,” he said. “I’ve lost it. The knack. It’s gone.”
I’d just that morning finished rereading Mal Peet’s most recent book, Life: An Exploded Diagram. Which is why he phoned. Because I’d phoned him a few hours earlier to tell him how utterly brilliant it still was on second reading.
“Yeah,” I said sympathetically. “So what else is new?”
“No, you don’t understand. I’m finished. I’m through.” The voice on the end of the phone trailed off in a moan of self-pity.
“It’s a passing phase. Happens to me all the time.”
“Well, darling, for YOU it’s obviously a passing phase. For me, well. It’s curtains.”
“No, it’s not,” I said. “Buck up. You’re a brilliant writer. I can’t wait to read what you write next.”
“If only,” he sighed. “Still, mustn’t grumble. I’ve had a good run. A few decent books. A person shouldn’t expect more than that.”
“Oh for heaven’s sake. Stop moaning and get back to work. You’re talking nonsense.”
“I know,” he said. “Anyway, how the hell are you?”
“Haven’t written a word all week.”
“Never mind,” he said kindly. “You will.”
“I know. So will you.”
“I know,” he said.
“Of course you do,” I said.
And then we both hung up and tiddly-pommed back to the task at hand.