It’s the wonderful Oxford Arts Week. On Tuesday, I was on a panel in Littlemore church exploring the creative process. This evening, I attended the annual Arts Week Forum which had a distinguished panel including Sir Philip Pullman.

Imagine my delight to discover that I had answered a question in a similar way to him! Asked about how I begin, I explained that some writers know what will be in every chapter but I’m not like that. I have a vision, an idea of the end but mostly I create the principle characters and let them take me on journey.

Philip described how he created the character of Lyra and imagined her in a room where she was not meant to be, hiding and overhearing something she was not meant to hear. Then he let her lead him.

On my panel, some talked of the magic of creation.  While Philip did not dismiss that idea, he said ‘The magic comes because you put in the hard graft.’ He stressed that writing is mostly about putting in the time and the effort and the discipline.

The previous evening, I had described an interview I did with Colin Dexter the creator of Inspector Morse. Colin began by saying ‘Education has dominated my being, indeed, my first books were educational not crime fiction. I was Senior Classics Teacher at Corby Grammar School when deafness struck and blighted my life. After that I came here, in 1966, to work as Senior Assistant Secretary at the University of Oxford Delegacy in Ewert House where I continued to work until I retired in 1988.’

I realised that meant he had written his first seven novels in his spare time after the day job and wondered how he did it? Colin joked that after supper, listening to the Archers and a pint of good ale at the local, if he wrote one page a day that was 365 a year  and a book written i.e. the hard graft!

With Coli Dexter at an Oxford Castaways Oxtopian  event .