I FEEL like I’ve come down to earth with a bump having spent the last eight weeks in pantoland dressed as a fairy, granting wishes and creating magic. Now I’ve landed in a place called Trumpbrexia – and it certainly don’t feel like Kansas any more.

Yet there is one thing that the recurrent themes of pantomime remind us of – apart from the daftness, the humour, the music and the continued lancing of that old boil of pomposity – and that is that the well-worn tales of Cinderella, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, et al, remain popular for a reason: They have a morality tale within them. They warn us against the pursuit of wealth for its own sake, against selfishness and greed, lying and treachery – lessons that need to be taught again and again. It is no accident that these morality tales remain popular and necessary – we need reminded of what matters in life and what is true and meaningful; that love, kindness, equality and truth will triumph. Hope must win.

In these dark days of post truth, with concerted attacks on logic, education and reason we need to be reminded of what is real and good and true and if that’s through a good story with a bit of fun and magic thrown in then we can start to understand why so many hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland flock to what I have long called our “Other National Theatre” every year: its very survival as an art form is testament to that.

Pantomime has its detractors and is not everyone’s cup of tea but if you have a great story, tell it with enthusiasm, and get your audience really involved, then you can win over even the most hard-hearted punter – as all of Scotland loves a good story.

I’m back on stage this weekend where I’ll be chairing the Scottish Independence Convention’s Build conference in Glasgow. On Saturday I will welcome, with the rest of the Independence convention, more than 800 people to Glasgow and chair discussions on everything from our economy to the type of country we want to live in.

This is the start of another stage, or chapter, in our own country’s story of our progression to self determination and Independence.

For many people 2016 was like the end of act one where a happy ending looks miles away and all is lost… People are crying out, if not for a perfect happy ending, then at least for a better story. Sadly, across the UK too many people seem tired of the old stories of truth and democracy. Much of that is due to the carelessness of the political class and elites. They treated democracy like a Cinderella figure – taken for granted and abused – and that has left too many ready to listen to the tall tales told by the ugly sisters of Farage and Johnson with evil stepmother Theresa May standing by and encouraging their cruelty. In America something similar seems to have happened with Donald Trump.

In Scotland these tall tales have not been anything like as successful and I believe the Yes movement had a huge part in that. Into the vacuum left by the Westminster parties stepped voices of progress, hope and a better way of living – as opposed to the blaming of “the other” for all our ills. It was an unfair system full of privilege, injustice and a government who seemed to care little for those left behind by the apparent neo-liberal miracle. We looked to ourselves to make the change. We should be glad – but not complacent – and in this climate such a message of hope and progress, about how the future can be better than the past, is what this conference is about. And we all know that if the good guys don’t come up with new stories, then the bad guys will.

So what will Scotland’s big story of 2017 be? Many thousands of us want that story to be about how we can be open and inclusive and tolerant, more equal, better off and with much more control over our own lives.

That’s not an easy story to tell in Farage’s Britain. But it could be the story of an independent Scotland. And that’s what the conference is about. The narrative presented by the Yes movement in 2014 won over a lot of people, but it didn’t win over enough. Yes answered a lot of the old questions, but not all of them – and certainly not some of the new questions that have come up since.

So where now? What needs to change? What answers still stand? Do we use the same strategy, a variation, something new? Are we all ready to tell the story as effectively and comprehensively as we can? And are we ready to tell the truth about how difficult and hard this will be at times? The conference is divided into three sections: policy, strategy and movement-building. Each one will hear from experts – and the audience. We’ll look at new research and start to shine a light on how close we are to being ready to go to the people of Scotland with a strong case for a new independence referendum, Of course, in one day we’re not going to get the job done. There is lots of work to be done from grassroots organising to detailed and complex policy development. But if we can kick this off and get the movement to come together and focus on the immediate future, it doesn’t need to take us a long time.

And once that story is ready, I really do believe that the people of Scotland will be ready to hear it. I believe that there are more than enough people who want to share a way forward that isn’t about blaming immigrants or Europeans for our own problems.

Stories can change who you are. They can change how you feel and what you think. We did it once with a story of hope but the book isn’t yet finished… new chapters unfold. More hope is required, so we’re aiming for a strong narrative – a good story told with enthusiasm and plenty of audience participation. The script for 2017 and beyond isn’t written yet... let us begin.

Elaine C Smith is convenor of the Scottish Independence Convention and is addressing the conference Build: Policy – Strategy – Movement today