Books pile up by the desk as you work on a project. They’re research or inspiration, or talismanic, or just fortuitous. You look for what connects them. Their separate outlines begin to merge and soon they form a single imaginary map. This map has a small empty space at the centre. Somewhere in that space is the book you’re trying to write.

Four days to Polling Day

Louis MacNeice writes:

What is it we want really?
For what end and how?
If it is something feasible, obtainable,
Let us dream it now,
And pray for a possible land
Not of sleep-walkers, not of angry puppets,
But where both heart and brain can understand
The movements of our fellows;
Where life is a choice of instruments and none
Is debarred his natural music,
Where the waters of life are free of the ice-blockade of hunger
And thought is free as the sun,
Where the altars of sheer power and mere profit
Have fallen to disuse,
Where nobody sees the use
Of buying money and blood at the cost of blood and money,
Where the individual, no longer squandered
In self-assertion, works with the rest, endowed
With the split vision of a juggler and the quick lock of a taxi,
Where the people are more than a crowd.

Louis MacNeice, Autumn Journal, xxiv (1939)