Today finds me (via the red eye Eurostar) in London, at the headquarters building of the Guardian and Observer newspapers for a two-day Guardian master class in creative writing. Our teacher this morning was Sarah Hall and it was just great fun to explore literary techniques with her. My fellow classmates are a fascinating mix: a number of journalists turned creative writers; short-story writers; novelists; an academic historian now writing a historical novel about William of Tyre; a top-flight cancer specialist who survived the irony of cancer herself and is now intent on exploring the emotional side of illness; a singer and songwriter whose latest project is to write brief lives based on old bank statements found in bins. Thanks to Sarah I have discovered an American author, Richard Brautigan, who I will certainly be reading up on. But it is above all nice to be swimming in literary waters, for we all know what it is to be driven, to stare at the empty page, to doubt our ability, to suffer rejection slips, etc. But this is something, whether we are successful or not, that we must do. Interestingly, Sarah does not plot her novels but prefers to let them grow organically. For her, the structure is something that she imposes afterwards, in the many re-writes.