My mum is the sort of woman who is always learning. From a post-graduate diploma in theology to typing, to Shakespeare’s Women or Jane Austen’s Men; she always has something on the go. The latest was Free Knitting. She went away for a couple of nights in half term, ready to be inspired by learning something new into a creative outburst. She is currently, when she isn’t off swimming or volunteering at a charity cafe or visiting family and/or friends, to be found under a pile of yarn in varying states of fluff, knitted into triangles she tells me she will turn into a bag, or a cushion cover, or something.
Now, I can knit (although I find it difficult to maintain the level of concentration you need to achieve success over the long term); I quite like the feeling of warmth that steals over you as the fabric grows into something you hope will be shapely and usable. But I have no desire to immerse myself in handicrafts. One reasonably successful knitted nativity, and I feel I have paid my dues to yarn.
But she has given me an idea. It’s something I have been mulling over for a while, a return to telling stories. Not the stories of the reality of life as it happens to me and my family, stories of Sam, but fiction.
I’ve been turning the idea over in my mind, that of creating a character with Down’s syndrome, someone in a story who doesn’t exists merely as a plot device, but who has real agency; a character without whom the story wouldn’t happen. The point at which the world turns.
I might know how the story will start, but I have no idea how it will end, or the journey it will take in between the two. Usually, when I write, I have it all planned out. I know the who and the why and the when, what brings them together and what drives them apart. Usually, I have at least an idea of where I am going and what I hope to achieve.
This time it’s different. This time I intend to free myself from conventional confines and find out if, instead of forcing out a narrative, a puppeteer playing a particular tune, the story is hiding inside, asking me to take the time to find it, to piece together the triangles, as it were, and form them into something new.
So I’ve started a new blog. I don’t know how often the posts will come, only that they, slightly scarily, will.