I realised, after many years as a screenwriter, that writing is essentially an act of faith.
People talk about the 'magic' of cinema. When you think about it, though, there isn't a lot of real magic involved (and, with the advent of CGI, there's arguably even less). But where there is still magic - where something is made out of nothing, or where nothingness is given shape, form and life - is at the scriptwriting stage.
Anyone who can take 120 sheets of plain white A4 and turn it into a gripping and memorable story of fascinating characters in complex situations with some heartstopping moments is without doubt a magician.
And novelists - well, they just have more paper at their disposal (and don't have to worry about too many other departments wrecking their precious baby).
Magic, of course, requires various things if it is going to work. The main thing, I would argue, is faith. I mean, what's the point of setting out to achieve some magic if you don't believe it's going to work?
Which brings me to my current slough. I have started revising my opening chapters for Commanding Youth, my brilliant historical revelation of the real Arthur, who he was, where he fought and where he is buried. It's brilliant, I tell you.
Only, I haven't really worked on CY in well over a year. Back in March 2009 it squeaked into the top five on Authonomy. Two publishers had asked to see it. One of them told me back in September that a colleague of his was reading it and he'd have a firm response for me by the following week. Then, silence, and the occasional glimpse of tumbleweed.
I've spent most of my time in between working on my equally brilliant Will's Treason, the first three chapters of which went winging their way to my agent late last week. So maybe I'm a but bleeuuugghhh because I've been working so hard on that one and I'm waiting to find out whether my agent loves it or wants to get me sectioned.
Maybe it's harder to build up the necessary faith in order to work some magic if you've had a go at this trick a few too many times already. Maybe it's easier if you're tackling something fresh. But, I'll be honest, I feel like I'm struggling with putting the new Commanding Youth together. Okay, so it's early days, but how long, I wonder, before the faith returns ... The faith that this draft will be fantastic ... The faith that somebody out there is going to go nuts over it ... The faith that, one day, it'll be out there in paperback ... ?
Hard to work magic when your faith's not quite up to the challenge, don't you find?