How Emma’s wake-up call led to her creating a book of hope

Emma Major with a copy of Little Guy, her newest book

FOR most people, a wake-up call is a warning to heed but for one Earley woman, it’s been a godsend. Literally.

Emma Major is celebrating the launch of her new book, Little Guy. Subtitled A Journey of Hope, it all began with some 2020 vision.

In January, she woke up with three pictures and poems in her head. She quickly committed them to paper – and saw more follow. Within a fortnight, there were 25 poems and drawings of the Little Guy.

“They literally just came into my head,” she says. “I just thought why can’t I draw that? But they wouldn’t go away, you know how God is. So I drew them and was kind of amazed with how they came out and I started sharing them online.

“People asked me, ‘Well, whatis it?’ and I said I didn’t know, he’s just a little guy – it’s not any big thinking, he’s just a little guy.

“It wasn’t a doodle that came into my head, it was more than that, a full image. Every one of them came as a full image in my head.

“Over two weeks, all 25 were drawn and I didn’t really know what to do with them, so I put them online. I knew which order they were meant to be in, it was taking this loneliness, anxiety and depression and then it wasa hopeful journey.”

The response so far has been terrific, Emma says.

“When I put these pictures on to Facebook, people loved them. So many of my friends were saying that needed to do something with it,” she explains. “Lots of people have been really affirming, encouraging and they’re just pleased that it’s out there.”

The subject matter is timely: 2020 has been a year that has, at times, lacked hope and many of us are struggling with the lockdowns and restrictions placed on our everyday lives. Not being able to see friends and family in the way we normally would has got many of us down.

“When the pictures were drawn, I didn’t know what their purpose was, it was only when we went into lockdown,” she says. “Suddenly I was like, ‘Oh, wow, this is for now, isn’t it?’”

Emma’s family went into shielding a week before the March lockdown, for health reasons – Emma is visually impaired – and stayed that way for five months. “The community just experienced this loneliness that most people have never experienced before.

“I think people need hope.

“We’re going back into it now, in some way, but we will come out of it, we will hold together, we will learn and we will journey. We’re not going to be on our own forever.”

The book is published by The Iona Community, a dispersed Christian community working for peace and social justice – Emma is a licensed lay minister at Earley St Nicolas church, so it’s a natural partnership.

“I’ve been a member of the community for four or five years, I’ve been really passionate about their work on social justice and environmental protection, the idea of caring for our planet and everybody in it.

“So when they said we’d be really interested in publishing my book, it was the perfect fit.

“They’re a small publisher who like working with authors and really want to bless the world with as much hope as possible.”

Despite her Christian background, Emma says that Little Guy is everyone.

“From what people have said to me – people with no faith or any type of faith of faith, people of different ages, it’s a book that works for anybody.

“For me it speaks to me about my faith, because that’s who I am. For others, it speaks to them about love, about a higher power. Part of its appeal is that it speaks to you in a way that you need it to.”

It’s been quite the year for Emma, over the summer she appeared on Channel 4’s art show with Grayson Perry where she talked about her pictures.

“I’ve never been an artist. It was only when I lost my sight, or most of it, that I stopped judging myself. Now, I can’t see what I do, I just draw for fun and I paint for fun. It’s so freeing, it’s about the enjoyment of creating rather than worrying about what anyone else will think about it.

“It’s been so important during lockdown. I would love everybody to give it a go, throw some paint around on a canvas and see how amazing it feels.”

And Emma also ensures that her work is as accessible as possible. Little Guy is available as an audio book too.

“It’s really important to me,” she says. “I’ve spent a lot of time over the last five years moaning that when books come out they’re not accessible to people who can’t read.

“One of the things I did at the start was to record the script descriptions and send them to a few blind people and say, what does this conjure up in your mind?

“Mostly, it was quite close to what the pictures were.”

Little Guy is published by Wild Goose Publishing, part of The Iona Community.  It’s available to order from Quench in Holme Grange Craft Village. ISBN: 9781849527408

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