Firstly, I spoke to my mum's doctor this morning and he said they were more optimistic than they were a week or so ago. He also said my mum was 'incredibly resilient'. I call it defiance and it's a quality about her I now think is bloody amazing whereas before it was just a pain in the arse! I feel much more settled knowing that she's fighting these things off. Secondly, I'm giving a talk and creative writing workshop next Tuesday to a group of teenagers in Brixton. I have been told the talk will be very informal and I have already half-planned the workshop element but I'm still very nervous - teenagers are that strange breed of creature that, by and large, are strangers to diplomacy and if they are not impressed with the workshop I'm sure they will not hesitate to voice it! If I wasn't nervous I'd be rather more worried, I think. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry is moving along at a nice pace and, as I think I said in an earlier post, I've been really lucky, or simply more discriminating in my choice of books, that so far this year I've read some amazing and very inspirational fiction that has made me think not just about the story and the characters but also about narrative and structure and tone. When I first began writing 'seriously' I was certain there must be a 'formula' or a way of 'doing it' and so I spent more money on How to write.... books when what has helped me much more was actually just doing what I had done all along - to just read other novels and ask silent questions of them - entering into a dialogue.