I guess painting personalized cards is my new "thing". One of my bestest buddies in the world is getting married this weekend, and she (inexplicably) has a thing for pugs. I mean, the longer I looked at them, the more they looked like aliens. Anyway, I am banking on her being too busy with last-minute preparations to be reading my blog, and thus, seeing her card early:
Now look... Honest Abe, I am NOT spending all of my time drawing greeting cards. Truth is, I am working on a new story, which- honestly- I thought was close to being finished. Then, I showed it to some people. One person, in particular, gave me some feedback that was simultaneously very very helpful, and very very hard to hear. It made me realize... I may have been approaching my picture-book writing in EXACTLY the wrong manner! I've read all sorts of writing manuals and author interviews, and they talk about just getting to know their character and being as surprised as the reader at what will happen next in their story. And I thought, That is all well and good for them! Me, I like to have a plan, and to know exactly how all the pieces fit together, and how it will all end up from the beginning. The problems with doing things this way is that there are no surprises. Not for me, not for the reader.
So, it's been a learning experience for me these past weeks, to say the least. It seems easier, right?!? This character is very fully formed in my mind, I just need to let him do his thing! Just relax and let the imagination flow! The thing is, I am the kind of person who applies her brakes when going downhill quickly on her bike, who will ski down the slope in the plow position so as to not lose control, who never, ever got so drunk in college that she didn't have control of her senses. If you're sensing a theme here, it's that I like to be in control! It's hard for me to hand over the reigns to my main character, and to trust that things will turn out in the end.
So, that's been the story of my workadays. Struggling with writing by day, and using my evenings to relax with painting, with which I feel much more comfortable. Do all the rest of you illustrators-turned-authors feel these growing pains? It's funny, BEA ROCKS THE FLOCK is being released TOMORROW! Just when I thought I knew a thing or two about writing picture books, I realized I know next to nothing at all. Isn't that an Indigo Girls song?