Heathrow the next morning looked like one of those bad science fiction movies "set in the near future" after the security forces have taken over the state. Two armored personnel carriers were parked outside the terminal. A dozen men with Rambo machine guns and bad haircuts patrolled outside. Vast lines of passengers queued to be frisked and X-rayed, carrying their shoes in one hand and their pathetic tolietries in a clear plastic bag in the other. Travel is sold as freedom, but we were free as lab rats. This is how they'll manage the next holocaust, I thought, as I shuffled forward in my stockinged feet: they'll simply issue us with air tickets and we'll do whatever we're told.
Of all human activities, writing is the one for which it is easiest to find excuses not to begin – the desk's too big, the desk's too small, there's too much noise, there's too much quiet, it's too hot, it's too cold, too early, too late. I had learned over the years to ignore them all and simply to start.
A book unwritten is a delightful universe of infinite possibilities. Set down one word, however, and immediately it becomes earthbound. Set down one sentence and its halfway to being just like every other bloody book that's ever been written. But the best must never be allowed to drive out the good. In the absence of genius there is always craftsmanship. One can at least try to write something that will arrest the readers' attention, that will encourage them, after reading the first paragraph, to take a look at the second, and then the third.