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I am having a clear out. I am putting my notebooks, drafts and scraps of paper into a box file. My plan is to take it out into the garden and bury it where it will never be discovered.

‘What are you doing?’ The book is filling the doorway, its arms folded across its chest.

‘You know, tidying up.’

‘This is more than tidying up,’ the book says. ‘This is medical.’

‘Do you mind?’ I say. ‘I need to do this. Today, if possible. Before I die.’

‘So it is medical?’ the book says.

‘Not in that way. I just need to be rid,’ I look around the office, ‘of all this.’

‘Please may I ask why?’ the book says.

‘Because it is balls. Over. Finished. A disaster from the word go.’

‘But you haven’t even finished it yet.’

‘Which is how I’d like it to stay,’ I say. ‘I can’t believe I let it get this far.’

‘You should finish it at least,’ the book says.

‘But it’s terrible,’ I say. ‘I can hear them laughing already.’

‘That’s just an excuse,’ the book says. ‘For not doing anything. For not taking the risk.’

‘So you think it might OK?’

‘It might be,’ says the book. ‘It might not. But you won’t find out if you don’t give it a go. Come on, you owe it to yourself.’ The book gently slides a notebook from my hand. ‘See this here, I can think of several poets who’d give their left arm for lines like these.’

‘You think so?’

‘I know so.’

‘You’re not just saying it?’ I say. ‘To be nice.’

‘When have I ever been nice?’

‘True,’ I say.

‘You should see what X is up to. Now that really is terrible work.’

‘How d’you know that?’

‘I have my contacts. And anyway, that isn’t the main point, what X is up to. It’s what you’re up to that counts.’ The book lifts another notebook from the desk and places it back on the shelf.

‘I bet they will laugh, you know,’ I say.

‘So what? So what if they laugh? You will have made something. Something only you could have made. Even if nobody sees it. It will be yours.’

‘I will have made something,’ I repeat. ‘It will be mine.’