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The book and I are passing each other messages through a third party.

Neither of us bothers with the niceties any more, nor do we keep regular hours.

The bath, in the middle of dreams, meetings. (Sometimes these are the same thing.)

The messages, such as they are, tend towards the terse.

‘Can I keep that poem?’

‘No.’

‘Negotiable?’

‘No.’

‘Absolutely?’

‘Absolutely.’

We both know it: the shape, the structure and the ‘concept’ are in ruins.

And all because I would not listen. For around three years.

Slowly I am starting to realise that killing the book was the best thing for it, not least the realisation that the book I thought I was writing was dreadful.

Now it is a new kind of dreadful, but at least one with integrity.

There is still something here, ticking quietly, its pulse not yet extinguished.

From nowhere the book makes a proposal, speaking directly, not through its agent. It wants to know: do I fancy a coffee?

‘You ought to know by now,’ I want to say (but don’t). Instead I say ‘That would be lovely, thank you. Your place or mine?’

‘You decide,’ the book replies. ‘Any time you want. It’s time to talk.’