I guess a little of the excitement I used to feel starting a novel has ebbed away over the years; it’s my life, my career, my living, and I’ve got used to writing a novel more or less every year, so to some degree it’s part of a routine, not the dazzling new adventure it used to be. But that’s okay, because there are compensations, and the fact that I oscillate between mainstream and SF means that I’m always writing something different from the last book. Plus there is, anyway, invariably a point where the book I’m writing, regardless of genre, sort of takes over and energises the whole process; I get all wrapped up in it and come close to forgetting that I’ve ever written anything else.
Also, if you have any sort of ambition, pride in your work or even self-respect, in a sense you always have something to prove. I’m getting to the sort of age now when I need to prove there’s life in the old dog yet, and fully intend to keep on attempting to do so until it becomes positively embarrassing for all concerned. (In this scenario, the lunch where your publisher takes you somewhere nice but then asks pointedly what your plans are for your retirement represents the equivalent of the smelly mutt’s last trip to the vet.)
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