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‘Hullo,’ says the book.

‘I thought you had gone away.’

‘I lied,’ says the book. ‘What are you going to do about it?’

‘Is this what it’s going to be like?’ I say.

‘It’s up to you,’ the book says. ‘It’s all in your hands.’

‘But you said,’ I say. ‘You said I could take some time off.’

‘I most certainly did not,’ says the book. ‘I said I was going away. They are completely different things.’

‘How?’

‘Me disappearing is refuelling, is you doing the washing up, noddling, doodling, ‘participating in ordinary human life’ as Anne Lamott calls it. Taking time off is giving in to resistance and persuading yourself that just another TED talk/kitten video/glance at the football scores will actually feed you and your work. I am going to go away. A lot. But that does not give you an excuse to bugger about on the internet and claim it as ‘research’.’

‘I don’t watch kitten videos,’ I say.

‘Yes you do. Everyone does.’

The book and I regard each other for a moment. Neither of us is smiling.

‘So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off,’ the book says, getting up. ‘I can see myself out.’

‘But how will I know when to get going? Do I just sit around and wait for you to turn up unannounced?’

‘I wouldn’t sit around waiting, no,’ the book says. ‘You just have to start. It will be rubbish of course, but not as rubbish as not starting. It might help you to remember that you always have a choice.’

‘Are you really the new book?’ I say.

‘What do you think?’ the book says.