I am Mouse.
Early on during the pandemic that we find ourselves in, we were told that ‘We are all in this together’ and I, as I am sure many did, believed these words and were comforted by them. Knowing that during the uncertainty we would be helped was some consolation for losing work and opportunities. First off, it was great to hear that employed staff would have their wages paid, albeit at 80% but some good news. If they have a good employer, people may have found that they were able to match that to 100%.
When there was no news about the self-employed, I panicked. There were several worrying days before whispers emerged that self-employed help was on the way. Great. But then, as the self employed help was announced, I quickly realised that a) it was not to the same level as PAYE workers and b) I was not entitled to it. Why? Because when I left teaching in 2018, my PAYE earnings outweighed my self employed earnings. I had fallen through the crack. Despite being fully self employed since September 2018, I was now, in March 2020, entitled to no help.
I waited for the next level of help but the ‘We are all in this together’ message quickly turned into ‘We can’t help everybody’. And, ever since, that has been it. When the issue has been raised in government questions, it has been swerved. It is no longer being spoken about. Media coverage is scarce. Twitter is alive with pleas of help but often met with silence or worse, accused of fraud or ‘Well, you knew what you were getting into’. But the people forgotten, the people left behind, are still there needing help. Many of the thousands upon thousands who have been forgotten are creatives like myself. Dancers, artists, entertainers, those who work in television- the list is endless.
Art and writing has helped me throughout my life when dealing with emotions and, to help me process what had happened, I starting writing a story to reflect the situation. The book is called Mouse and Bear.
The book follows the story of Mouse, who paints for a living. She gives a share of her food to Bear who promises to protect her. But when a storm comes, Bear doesn’t come to help. Mouse is then left to fend for herself until she finds help from a different source.
Sound familiar? That’s because it is. The book is real life. The only difference is, I don’t know how real life is going to end but I’d like it to be how I have written in the book. I have tried my very best to keep the story simple and to not sound bitter, that is not the point of the story. The aim is to highlight that even though Bear is unwilling to help, there are those that will.
The good news is that I have made the first few pages available for free right here!
My aim is to raise money through sales of the book to support to only myself and my family but also my fellow mice who have been forgotten. If I can do this through book sales it is great but unlikely. If I can somehow bring media attention to the issue then great. Although there are so many of us left behind, I want to try and help, particularly my fellow creatives. I plan on releasing the book in June and it is available to pre-order via my shop here: https://shopandonart.bigcartel.com/product/mouse-and-bear-book
Pre-ordering will help in getting funds for the printing costs but also give me an idea of how much support and interest there will be for the title. As mentioned above, the proceeds of sales will be split equally between myself and charities and organisations that are able and willing to support us mice. I have options but if you have any contacts / suggestions please get in touch at email@example.com
Also in June, I plan on releasing the book on Amazon as an ebook and printed book too. I am also looking into ways of creating a ‘pay what you want’ version which will allow you to pay as little or as much as you’d like.
If this book is not for you then all I would urge you to do is to try and support the creative people in your life as much as possible. Buy something from their online shop, support their Patreon, give them a boost on social media. They will most appreciative.
This whole pandemic has been hard for many people in so many ways. I feel guilty in asking for help but if a little mouse can help others in any way then I know it will be worth the embarrassment.