A Prisoner of Prose

Working in a quiet corner of a Hampstead eatery

As Winston Churchill said, “Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy, an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then a master and then a tyrant. And just before you are reconciled to your fate, you slay the dragon and cast it upon an unsuspecting public.”

I’m sure I began my writing adventure far more modestly than Churchill did — at first only making up characters and situations and recording nothing. Later I began to think occasionally, “That was a good sentence. Perhaps I should write it down.” Writing was a diversion, something with no real goal and certainly not anything that I considered doing seriously.

After a period of time, however, I discovered that my flirtation had become a full-fledged affair: There was a certain satisfaction in writing good sentences or dreaming up an appropriate metaphor. With no intention on my part, some of the sentences began to link themselves together into what could loosely be construed as a plot. I wasn’t committed for the long run, though; I could put the pen down whenever I chose. Or could I?

No, I couldn’t walk away. I was a prisoner of prose. I needed to write more and more, to learn what was going to happen to imaginary characters who were so real, so alive. I knew their thoughts. I could hear their conversations, their laughter. I could feel their fear, their tears, and — their hope. Knowing them had made me a better person. How could I not want to share this journey with others?


Waiting for the subway at Hampstead Station
Waiting for the subway at Hampstead Station

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