So say you’ve wrestled with a central problem on many occasions. It’s sweaty and there is grunting. You try brute force, cunning technique, you try dirty tricks. No dice; the problem keeps getting the better of you. Then one day, having turned your back on that problem for now because thinking about it just makes you feel down-at-heel, you are sitting there at the keyboard minding your own business. You’re following a little thread thinking you’re just chasing down a detail when out of the blue WHOOMP this big wild purple idea with tap shoes materializes right in front of your face and starts dancing for its life, saying, ‘I dare you to use me. I fucking dare you.’ With a terrible shock you realise that the tapdancing purple idea will solve your big problem, but so very much NOT in the way you imagined. So much not.

The whole process takes about five seconds but the thing you’re working on will never be the same. Now it’s shot through with lightning.

This is one of the (rare) highs of writing. So what if it burns all your hair off and the smell is atrocious? Being a writer means that once in a while, you are nothing more than a piece of toast.