In parallel with lockdown, I stopped blogging. No idea why. In a period like this, talking to the air, sending words out there, is surely a very human thing to do? Perhaps I was stopped in my tracks because so many of my blogs have included comments on plays I have seen.
It isn`t as if I`ve been inactive. On the contrary. In my inner life I`ve been buzzing. In March I worked hard to complete the collection of 12 short stories – to which I may now, after revising it in the last two weeks, add another one – The Emissary.
More than half the stories in the collection reflect an issue that has run through my life like an unbroken thread. That of Jewish identity. Not anyone`s Jewish identity. Mine. Zionism or not. Secular, leftwing Zionism or not. Cultural liberation (what does that mean?) or not.
One day in the late 1980`s I set off from Piccadilly Station in Manchester, to get to London, the first stage of a trip to Jerusalem to visit my parents. I bumped into a writer friend.
`Where are you going?` he asked.
`To Israel,` I replied. `I`m not sure I really want to go, at this moment.`
Why did I say that? Was I already aware that of all the places I might mention to writer friends, Israel was the least likely to create an enthusiastic `oh how interesting!` Thirty years on, this friend and others pepper their facebook pages with frequent critiques of Israel. Many justified, in my leftwing Zionist opinion. But it genuinely troubles me that these same fb pages are by comparison often lacking in critiques of countless other countries in the world where injustices kill, imprison, torture, starve, ignore, hundreds and thousands of people.
Actually, the friend`s response surprised me. `Send me!` he proposed. `Your emmissary.` Rewritten for the tenth time, The Emmissary may soon join the collection. One small publisher wrote that she loved the set of stories, but thought it should be split in half – one half dealing with issues of Jewish identity, the others depicting my identity and development as a writer. Two sides of the same coin, though.
After dealing with the stories, I have revised and submitted novels and sent a couple of stories to journals.
Finally, I have decided to self-publish two small books. The first – working on it now – M E and Me. A memoir of my experiences with this still little understood condition. 20,000 words. The second – my children`s book The Land of Socks and Teaspoons. For this I need an illustrator. Ten years ago this book attracted the attention of a major publisher. The head of children`s fiction took me out to lunch and offered to present it to her marketing team, with the intention of publishing it – if I could come up with three more books of its ilk, so they could plan for a series. Stupidly, I insisted the book was one of a kind. Now I would like to self-publish it. Actually, of everything I have written, this work is going to be of most value to the general public. In it I reveal the desperately sought answer to the perennial and problematic question: what actually does happen to missing odd socks and teaspoons?