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Ian Fleming, who had a blast as a real spy for Her Majesty and then an even bigger blast writing about a made-up spy, was born today in 1908.

His James Bond novels weren’t the greatest pulp of the postwar era, but still generally smashing good fun (more so than the Sean Connery movies, that’s for sure). Even so, Fleming wasn’t a careless stylist; he worked at it.

According to Andrew Lycett’s Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, Fleming once gave this advice on writing:

You will be constantly depressed by the progress of the opus and feel it is all nonsense and that nobody will be interested. Those are the moments when you must all the more obstinately stick to your schedule and do your daily stint . . . Don’t let anyone see the manuscript until you are very well on with it and above all don’t allow anything to interfere with your routine. Don’t worry about what you put in, it can always be cut on re-reading.

(h/t: Simon Read)

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