Possibly he knew, as he wrote this, that he was mad - because inside every madman sits a little sane man saying 'You're mad, you're mad.'
The real art is not to come up with extraordinary clever words but to make ordinary simple words do extraordinary things. To use the language that we all use and to make amazing things occur.
London is like no other city I know in its ability to become beautiful. You can suddenly turn a corner and there are odd moments - of light, of weather.
It can be dismaying, all the same, for a novelist to compare the slowness of the writing with the speed of the reading. Novels are read in a matter of days, even hours. A writer may labor for weeks over a particular passage that will have its effect on a reader for an instant - and that effect may be subliminal or barely noticed.
There is a certain inescapable attachment. If you are born somewhere and circumstances don't take you away from it, then you grow up and remain within it.
I share my name with an aerobatic bird that can whiz across a whole summer sky in seconds. A swift is so equipped for speed that it can scarcely cope with being stationary.
As a novelist, I suppose I can say that I'm highly articulate. But I know, as a person, in other ways, I'm not always articulate. I think we are all, from time to time, inarticulate, at some level, about some things.
In my work you often get an abrupt shift in time, a jolt. But the emotional logic will take the reader on. I hope. I trust. After all, our memories do not work with any sequential logic.
I came from a lower-middle-class postwar family in a time of austerity and retrenchment, with no one in the family who was in any way artistic or a potential mentor to a budding writer, and yet this is what I became.
One of the things that probably drew me to writing was that it was something you could get on with by yourself. Publishing means going public. But the actual activity could scarcely be more invisible. And private.
The novel that's contemporary in the sense of being wholly 'of now' is an impossibility, if only because novels may take years to write, so the 'now' with which they begin will be defunct by the time they're finished.
Of course there are times when I hate London, but equally there are times when I can walk 'round a corner and I really feel that this is my place.
All novelists must form their personal pacts in some way with the slowness of their craft. There are some who demand of themselves a 'rate of production,' for whom it's a matter of pride to complete, say, a book every year.
The idea of stopping is not unmeaningful to me. I think there might be a time when, in theory at least, you'd say, 'Well I've mostly done what I want to do.' But how could you ever prevent a few years down the line some germ of an idea getting at you and you've got to do it again?
The pen is very quick for getting stuff from your brain to the page. I can do hieroglyphics in the margin. There are days when I really enjoy the flow of ink. I mean, nice pen, ink straight on to the page.
There's an undeniable thrill in seeing what's most current in our lives offered back to us in fictional guise, but it soon dates and it's never enough.
I had a fear of becoming anything, a fear of becoming a specialist. I might have become a doctor, but if you become a doctor, that's your specialty in life and you are defined by it. One of the attractions of being a writer is that you're never a specialist. Your field is entirely open; your field is the entire human condition.
I tend to begin with what you might call the very small world of personal life. But I am certainly interested in how that small, intimate world connects or doesn't connect with a larger world.
I'm not a writer who looks for the fantastic and the sensational. I like the world we've got. If there is anything special and magical, I have to find it in the ordinary stuff.
Structure that really pays off is all based on emotion. I don't write down an elaborate plan. It's really done by feel. It's one area of my writing that I think I've got surer at as I've evolved.