Like many people who write fiction, I’d love to see my work in a book, with my name on the cover and a dedication to my children inside. But life’s a series of choices and for me, the choice is to
(i) write fiction, edit it, and get it published for my children,
(ii) spend time with them.
I don’t have time for both, so I’ve chosen to spend time with the kids and most nights we curl up together and either read a book (or three), watch a film, or make up stories that we enjoy, but which never find the page.
If only our memories worked more effectively, I’d have a catalogue of hundreds of raw stories – but ask any author what happens if you have an idea and fail to write it down.
Still, over the years our family has grown to include a few characters who have survived the years. George, who hunts marshmallows but found one so large he was engulfed, and whose neighbour is a very strange old lady. The aliens who invaded… yeah, I’m going to keep that idea in a box for the moment.
And recently Moonpoop who fell to earth and grew with the very first forest, where she still hides between the leaves. Moonpoop is furtive; almost no one can see her. Her shadow is the shape of a squirrel or a rat, and her feet are so light that only the forest creatures can find her. She has no name, no title. She owns nothing. She creeps between other people’s lives, dipping in only occasionally to heal, comfort, or laugh. Then she vanishes. No one ever catches her; sometimes they struggle even when she wants them to. Only four people in the world have the power to hold her, and only three realise it.
These characters have been told a hundred times; they lurk in the corners of our rooms, in the cracks between bricks and under the edges of our rugs.
They’ve been sketched on corners of notepads, napkins, and post-it notes; they’ve had coffee rings stamped onto their faces, and they wear cat paw prints. They’ve been thrown on the fire and been resurrected the next day.
Perhaps I can write them down in time for grandchildren, and maybe my own kids will one day get the chance to say, ‘Ah, Moonpoop – I grew up with her!’