Every Saturday morning of my seventeenth and eighteenth years, I drove from Dover, where my family lives, to Folkestone, where I had a weekend job. I took an A road to avoid the lorries on the M20, but sometimes they would find my route and I’d have to follow one along the cliff road until it came to the lay-by outside the village of Capel-le-Ferne, and pulled over. Early one morning, passing a lorry parked in that lay-by, I saw a man slipping from the back of it into the bushes. I realised later I’d seen someone arrive in England illegally, out of the corner of my eye. I’m not sure what Marina Lewycka would make of this; in 2005, Lewycka compared being an unpublished author to being an asylum seeker. ‘You know where you belong,’ she said, ‘but the gate is guarded … you try everything – different fonts, different noms de plume. You take out all the adverbs, then put them back in again. You spend hours refining your synopsis. You know it must be possible, because you see the Published Ones walking around on the other side of the frontier, bathed in an aura of publishedness.’
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