My Books

Friday, April 3, 2009

lots of "firsts"

Well, here it is! My new picture book for Random House that I have been working on since last summer, and the big reason I have been MIA. It has been so long since my last post that I don't even know where to start. How about a recap?

Since my last post, I have:
•finished the picture book (due out January 2010)
•received my first-ever royalty check (yippee!)
•done a storytime at Lorain County Public Library where we made a jellyfish craft (my first paid event)
•created and given 3 45-minute slide presentations at the College of Wooster about "my story" (my first time using KeyNote and first author-related presentations to college students and adults...I LOVED it!)
•had my first official "fan" come to a book signing (she seemed like someone I had known all my life and actually brought a picture of her little girl holding Haiku cute and a moment I will always hold dear)
•working hard to pull some work together for Surtex and the Licensing Shows (for my first appearance there at my agent's booth)

With all of these "firsts", I guess it's no wonder I have been overwhelmed with just living life lately! But, finishing a long project like a picture book always feels so good. I've been reflecting on my processes and the path I've taken to get to where I am, especially since I've started giving presentations about my work. It's been interesting to look back, but in a way it's been cleansing and has helped me find my way again. And I've been locked up in my bat-cave studio for so long finishing this book that it's felt so good to wake up in time for spring and get that balance of human interaction back again. And it's been especially rewarding to interact with not only the kids that my books are meant for, but also to start speaking to college students, educators and
the adult public–that is such a mutually beneficial experience that I LOVED more that I could have imagined.

Now, a little about my picture book I just finished. Thirty-two pages is SO much longer than twelve, and it's really been the project I've been focusing on since August. It's truly been a labor of love for me, and it has taught me that it doesn't always feel easy and graceful to grow. There are days when ideas and words and drawings flow, and the "making" moment feels peaceful and right. But there are also days when it is a struggle to be creative, when art feels hard and doesn't "click" and the process feels clunky and scary and I don't know "how." I think this is the reality of making books (or making anything creative) that artists and authors sometimes don't feel okay to talk about, because we know we are so lucky for the opportunity and don't want to sound ungrateful (because we're not!). But as I get older and know myself better and connect with a larger network of artists that also do what I do, I have learned that these feelings, good and bad, are all part of it–the growing pains we need to go through to truly accomplish something and share a part of ourselves. And when I have the self-doubting moments when I wonder how I will make it through the 32 pages and create something unique that I can be proud of, that my publisher is happy with, and that childen and parents will enjoy, I find my strength in the people around me that believe in me. I think some projects are ones that feel more effortless, where I have a clear vision and am able to stay pretty true to that through the course of the project. But other projects are ones that evolve, where one idea leads to the next, and I arrive at a very different place that where I began. This new book is the latter. The book has altered course a lot from the original concept, which some might think would be a disappointment, but I think letting go is important so that an idea can grow into what it is supposed to be. If we hold on too tightly and treat ever itty-bitty idea so preciously, we run the risk of suffocating it. Some ideas need room to breathe and grow. I feel really fortunate to be working with a great editor and art director team at Random House–they have had so much confidence in me from the beginning and have really helped pull things out of me that I didn't even know were there. Heidi my editor, sorry this paragraph is so are probably cringing and dying to edit it!

Anyways, thanks to all of you–my husband, family, friends, and work buddies–who have stood by me, encouraged me, listened to me, inspired me, taught me, believed in me, waited for me. I truly could not do this without you and please know that you are all part of my story.

Sorry this one is so sappy but I needed to get that out! Hopefully I will have some more time to blog and post goodies again soon...I'd like to be better about that. Happy Friday!


Red Fish Circle said...

Congratulations on the completion of your book. It sounds like it was a huge growth experience - and I love what you said about letting go. It takes so much courage to do that especially when you are responsible to a publisher. I am sure this book is the beginning of a whole new great chapter for you .

Looking forward to seeing the book when it comes out!

roz said...

So inspiring, thank you for this post.
Congratulations on your new book, can't wait to see it in the "flesh". =o)

coloredsock said...

hey Betsy, thanks for sharing so much! i wrote a long comment a couple days ago but it got eaten... first, congrats on all your firsts! and especially your picture book -- i can't wait to add it to my/Tulsi's collection. what you said about letting go of initial visions so it can morph into what it needs to be really resonates with me. i feel like my book i'm workin on now is a bit like that. it keeps surprising me. it's like a wild horse in some ways, i'm just trying not to fall off! ha. so glad you are doing well. xo,j