Lancashire-born Richard is at a crossroads in his life. Having spent a decade trying to come to terms with his diagnosis of a degenerative eye impairment called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), he is now faced with the reality of having to use a mobility cane. Although there are elements of his RP that Richard has already had to face head on, the use of a cane is something else entirely. It is an acknowledgement of his disability, not only to himself but to the outside world, and this is something that he just isn’t ready for. During a weekend flat-sitting in London, Richard decides to try using the cane away from people he doesn't know. Despite this new urban setting providing him a vast concrete platform with which to practice, Richard struggles to use the cane in front of other people, finding the busy, often hostile urban environment intimidating. Instead, it is in the outer edges of the city where he unexpectedly finds the peace and confidence with which to practice. As he ventures further into these edgeland spaces, Richard will battle feelings of fear and shame as he embarks on a perilous journey of acceptance and self-awareness.
The Bible has many references to blindness, but it was in Isaiah 42:16 that a key passage inspired the story I am driven to tell - and in locations that hold personal significance to me - that of a psychologically lost individual trying to come to terms with his identity. In Edgeland, Richard decides to tread unfamiliar paths, venturing into an entirely new world at once beautiful and terrifying, in order to achieve his primary goal of learning to use his mobility cane. What stood out to me about this particular passage was not only its reference to these 'unfamiliar paths' but the idea of 'turning darkness into light', of making the 'rough places smooth'. These key lines spoke to not only the physical challenge we place in front of Richard in our story, but most importantly the psychological challenge he must overcome to better understand his own sense of self. Through this character's impending blindness we will create a moving journey of self-awareness through rough, dangerous places that will speak to anyone (really, all of us) who has ever felt lost or alone, who has ever felt darkness on the path in front of them.