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'A very beautiful feeling'

18 June 2012

‘The Booker made me a lot of money. I didn't realise that all over the world, people will read a book just because it won the Booker prize. Not something I would do myself... But then one goes into some quite other, private region to produce a book. I think the Booker can drive people quite mad. That's why it's good to be detached from it.

I'm in that rather unfocused phase, which is one of discontent with not writing another book. What I'm missing is sitting at my desk and getting into the large alternative space of a book. I've got quite a few bits and pieces, but I haven't quite had the moment of revelation where I see how they fit together. It's always like this: a blur of different things, and then a story emerges.

But I never think: oh, this will be a smash hit.I have an underlying confidence that I won't suffer writer's block or anything.  I know there are things I can do, but an element of doubt is probably quite important. Perhaps we tend to overplay the agony side of (writing). But then, like any pain, when it's over, you can't remember it. So perhaps I'm wrong to say we exaggerate it. What I will say is that there are times when it's just the best thing: the high of things coming to you. You get a peculiar sense of elation, as if nothing else really matters. It's not a sense of smugness. But you're buoyed up. Your mind is wonderfully perceptive. It's a very beautiful feeling.

Alan Hollinghurst, author of The Stranger's Child in the Guardian