Putting the books together is a new challenge. I wrap the person around me, the rhythm, tone and meaning of their words eddy round me as I edit. I feel like a composer as I pick out the stories I have been told.
P’s humour, M’s silences, B’s droplets of wisdom. I’m trying to get to an essence. This is nerve-wracking. Am I choosing the right words? Is that what P meant? Would B like to hear that back? Will this one engage M’s family or carers in a different kind of interaction?
I’m wondering how much to take out and how much to leave. Is it best to try to get to the bone of it? If I take too much of the flesh away will I miss someting? Will the person recognise themselves in this? I’m painting a portrait. My pallette is full of colours chosen by my subject. This is a portrait painted through me. I’m trying to let the subject paint themselves using my hand. I’ve never done that before. This is a wonderful and extraordinary collaboration! I am learning so much about these people by getting out the way as much as I can so I can make space to really see them.
Listening back I also feel the grip of responsibility again. This book is what I will be leaving. I want to make it a true representation. I want to leave a tool that has the potential to spark conversation, be something that the person likes to hear or read and that creates a feeling of validation and connection to the greatest degree.
When the books are complete I feel proud. It’s also quite a beautiful thing to be near the process coming round full circle. To have an object to hold onto. Something tangible. A gift from that person to me and then back to them. A materialised form of our time spent together. I have been trying my best to make that elusive delicate space between us land on paper. I just hope they like it…. I’ll soon find out…