Writing is like a microcosm of life. First comes conception when the idea for a novel strikes. Next the story begins to take shape, still in its infancy. At last the manuscript can be sent out into the world, fully formed yet flawed, its author reduced to teenage angst, desperate for a call. Will the publisher suggest a date, or will the phone never ring? Then come negotiations, taking you through an emotional rollercoaster as a serious relationship is established. This excitement is followed by the editing process which can initiate some serious soul searching. Do I really want to cut that passage, having agonised over every word? Then come reviews, the disappointments and jealousies at failing to make bestseller lists, the gratification of awards, the sting of criticisms, and the thrill of praise. Last stage of all comes promotion, the launches and lunches, interviews, literary festivals, radio studios, train journeys, libraries and bookshops, obsessing over sales figures, royalty payments (hurrah!) - until you close your door and turn your attention to the keyboard once more as another idea strikes and the cycle begins all over again.