MY LIFE has the qualities of a balloon: with the energy of youth I became all puffed up. It took just a few hefty puffs – those few early successes – and I could touch the sky. I filled up the whole universe. I couldn’t possibly learn anything new.

Of course, once your balloon becomes inflated, the tiniest pinprick can blow it to smithereens. Protecting it from the slings and arrows of life becomes important.

In my case, I stopped writing. Perhaps I had run out of ideas; perhaps I was afraid of criticism.

Sooner or later – certainly by midlife – you are forced to confront who you really are, to let out the talents, or whatever other truths, you’ve been hiding. The sooner you do this, the sooner you decrease the pressure and the less likely you are to take out your frustrations on the world. The less likely you are to blow.

As for me, what I can say is that when I’m writing, I know who I am and why I’m alive.