It's a great relief. I like working with students. You can make a real difference to people's lives by showing them how to write more effectively. But if you're not actually doing it yourself, then the whole world starts turning shadowy and unreal. At least it does for me.
So now I can return to my latest novel which has been ninety per cent finished for such a long time. Before I can add a single world, however, I have to get back into the story. I have to remember who everybody is, what they're doing and, most important of all, why I am writing it. I have developed a technique for this which I've never heard anyone else describe before. It's a bit bonkers, to be honest. But I thought I'd share it with the world anyway.
What I do is this: I pretend to myself that it's not my book I'm looking at. Not only that. I pretend that rather than just being a children's novel this manuscript was written as a way of smuggling a hidden message out to the world. The hidden message is in the very last scene and it's my job to try to decipher the code.
Playing this game, I soon become completely obsessed by the story and once that happens I'm ready to write again. Because obsession is what fuels my writing. The weird thing is that sometimes this method works so well that I actually do discover a secret message hidden in the manuscript. A message from me to me. And I am always surprised by what I learn.