This is usually one of my favourite times of the year: autumn leaves to kick through, the smell of bonfire smoke, fireworks… I like Hallowe’en, too: much less stressful than Christmas with its big build up, flurry of food production and legacy of disappointment and indigestion.

When the children were younger I enjoyed decorating the house with stick-on bats, toy spiders and fake cobwebs (which blend in perfectly with the real ones habitually adorning my home). A few luridly-decorated treats, some spooky sound effects and a bath full of apples to duck for and everyone’s happy. When you bear more than a passing resemblance to a vampire in everyday life you don’t need an elaborate costume, either: just a trickle of Kensington gore from the corner of your mouth and you’re done. If you want a change, just stick on a pointy hat.

This year we travelled back from a rather damp week in the Lakes on Hallowe’en, so we didn’t have a party and didn’t even hollow out any pumpkins, which is probably my favourite part, just as being forced to eat whatever I concoct from the pumpkin flesh is my children’s least favourite. And as it’s continued to be damp I haven’t been able to sweep up the leaves, one of those tasks which I hate the thought of but actually find quite satisfying.

Just before we went away I learnt that I’d got a place on Encompass, a project run by Spread the Word, an agency that helps London writers to develop their careers. The aim is to recruit 12 writers from the London boroughs identified as having the poorest take-up of the arts and train us to run community workshops in creative writing. This will go on until February, when the workshops will take place, and then there’ll be a celebratory event in March. All very exciting, and its brought me into contact with a whole new group of writers, many of them poets. We won’t be working together but we’ll train together, and I’m looking forward to it.

I’m hoping that having a structured timetable to work to will make me do more of my own writing, because at the moment I’m not achieving much. There are too many other demands on my time, and although it may sound perverse to add to them, having to fit my work around a lot of other things often forces me to be more productive out of sheer desperation. Here’s hoping…

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