I opened an email last week to find a message from my editor at Kids Can Press with a file attachment showing the revised roughs of my first picture book. What a treat!
I can’t include a picture here, of course. You’ll have to wait for the finished book – now scheduled for release in Spring 2011. It will be worth the wait, since it’s being illustrated by the intensely creative, Governor-General’s-Award winning Virginie Egger. It’s wonderful for a first-time picture book writer like me to be teamed with such a talent!
I used to wish I had the ability to illustrate my own stories. It’s unnerving handing your text to a total stranger. The entire look and feel of the book is in their hands. The vision you had while writing it is about to erased. And if it what comes back is not to your taste, that’s just too bad.
That used to be a scary thought. But not anymore. Now I like not controlling everything. It leaves room for surprises. To see my simple words transformed into something gorgeous is like planting a seed and getting a treeful of presents.
What a rewarding partnership! The experience is much fuller that if I’d done both the writing and illustrating on my own. (And since I can’t put together an outfit, let alone an illustration, it’s a whole lot better looking.)
Last week, my 7-year-old son asked if he could illustrate one of my stories. I said sure. Not everything I write will earn the attentions of a professional illustrator, after all. Most of my stories will probably never find a market. (If the best few do, I’ll be very happy.) But why should the pretty-good-but-not-great stories end up in a filing cabinet forever? Instead they could become family storybooks, weekend hobbies, picturebooks written and illustrated here at home, maybe passed on to grandchildren with scrapbooks and photo-stories. People do that with all sorts of folk art – quilts, pottery, jewelry, photography, paintings, carvings – so why not do it with stories?
I’m going to dust off my dead files, grab my kid and some crayons, and give it a try. (And those pics I’ll be able to post here.)