Photo collage of Alex: “Calling Syrious” ©MJHodge 2019*
Art and parenting often overlap in my world, and no where more powerfully than in listening to, engaging with, and supporting my son's big imagination.
And, if it's true that a self-employed creative must wear 'all the hat's - this is multiplied for those of us balancing creative aspirations with caring roles.
As an example I've spent the last week balancing my creative hats (quilt making, painting ideas, conceptual artist, marketer, stockist, stationer, web designer, reader/ writer and unreliable Instagrammer) alongside my caring hats (administrator, chaser/ reminder-er, organiser, diary coordinator, emotional regulator, all-around counsellor) - with the Venn diagrammed hats falling in the areas of web design, editorial support, online publisher, and all around creative coach for my son.
Note I'm skipping more prosaic domestic goddess jobs for this exercise.
I say this as a reminder - for myself as much as anyone else - that however much I feel like I'm not getting accomplished in one area, there are a whole host of accomplishments happening on the sidelines. And this week that often sidelined work has led to a new website dedicated to my son's passion for story telling.
I live the *live* versions - as he updates me throughout the day on plot twists, dastardly deeds, heroic saves, and escape room levels of problem solving - but it's hard to share his fully embodied storytelling style in its full-on sensory-overload glory so I'll settle for a more traditional, single narrator, no sound effects style for now ...
Once upon a time, approximately 4 years ago, I promised my extraordinary storytelling son, who has learning disabilities related to Autism and an imagination larger than the known universe, that I would help him create a website for sharing his stories with a wider audience. And given his astounding memory for gross historical facts, animal trivia, and parental promises, you'll not be surprised that he's not let me forget it.
And, I've FINALLY delivered on it!
But also, HE's delivered on it. Despite me putting him off many and many-more-a-times, he kept on writing his stories down and when he stopped writing new material at the end of this academic year, he rose to my summer challenge to format his single-block no-indents no-paragraphs no-punctuation no-quote-marks no-capital-letters yes-millions-of-words across-25-multi-page-documents (ranging from 25-250 pages each) into a format that was at least a little bit more accessible to the average reader (aka me).
Given he was finally conceding the formatting question (note this was a four year battle of the wills), the least I could do was put my procrastination projects aside to deliver on my half of the bargain - and I did so gladly.
I'll be honest. The denseness of his original texts are truly mind boggling even for a text loving uber-fan. But the adventures that tie them together, those are part of my daily lived experience and if you can stick through the idiosyncratic storytelling (think oral tradition, an autistic-obsessive level love for repetition, making frequent use of the visual reference books he can't get enough of, and a natural gift for the cliff-hanger ending) I think you'll begin to understand why I wanted to share them with you ... and that's because they are fun, dynamic, centred on friendship, generous when it comes to helping others, and filled with endless determination to beat the bad guys and make the world a better place.
And because Alex writes as he speaks (the true gift of every good writer I think) his writing captures his voice so accurately that you only have to add in the character voices and verbal sound effects, ideally a dozen decibels above your normal comfort level, in order to catch a glimpse of the magic we live with.
So, here you are ... click the link below and welcome adventures from a different perspective into your life.
The shadow boxing and hard landings when you crash, bang, fall over while acting the stories out? Those are entirely optional ;)
Stories by Alex H
Original fiction with favourite characters by an autistic author
Alex writing during the first lockdown ©MJHodge 2020**
*Description, Top Image: Collaged portrait of Alex from the back. Alex is holding a shoe to his ear as though it were a phone and the background is a painting showing Egyptian inspired dog creatures in an alien landscape. Created as part of my Outside In Step Up: Exploring Collections, The Edward James Archive, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation in 2019 the background painting is “Are you really Syrious?” 1953 by Leonora Carrington. The back of the head pose is a reference to a 1937 portrait of Edward James by René Magritte. Sadly Dali’s Lobster Telephone was unavailable for the photoshoot, however Alex’s very own Shoe Phone rang in to fill the gap. Surrealists, one and all.
** Description, Bottom Image: from my lockdown sketchbook, coloured pencil on paper shows Alex from the back sitting at his computer table. Through a gap in the trees outside a 3 masted ship can be seen sailing across a star spangled sky. As school subjects didn't work for home schooling, Alex spent 20 hours a week on average working on his stories. And while it says above he stopped writing new stories down at the start of the summer holiday, he is most definitely still telling me new stories so I have no doubt that more adventures are on the way.