What do I really, really love? Halloween! Fairy tales! Every October, as I was growing up, my dad decorated for Halloween with enthusiasm. Coming from a farm background where harvest time holds a nostalgic and small town Sleepy Hollow place in my heart the make-over of Driz was pure pleasure. The re-do of Siz came from that book of fairy tales I read every morning while eating breakfast before school, compliments of my mother making sure we had books in the house. Fairy princess and zombie vampire – so much more interesting! Then I sat down to edit my stories and found that my “new and improved” characters lent themselves to WAY more interesting story lines. A whole new world and definitely more work just opened up!
September 23, 2013 | Categories: My author/illustrator life! | Tags: art, art adventure, author/illustrator, books, characters, children's books, Driz, illustration, little girls, pushing the envelope, Siz, sketching, vampire, zombie | Leave a comment
In February of this year I shared with you my sketches for two characters I am writing children’s book stories about: Driz and Siz. I was happy with my little “cute” girls and merrily sent sketches and manuscripts out to agents. No takers. Time passes. One day, surfing around on the internet I went to a site hosted by Will Terry, children’s book illustrator, who generously shares his experience and wisdom.http://willterry.com/ Here’s a quote from that insightful moment: “The internet ignores mediocrity. It ignores good. It ignores really likeable. It only celebrates excellent or great. You have to be willing to sacrifice and be great. You have to figure out what you want to do to be great. It can’t be forced. Do what you really, really love. Once you find that – don’t look back.” I looked at my “cute” characters and saw “likeability”. Aaargh! Considered two questions: What do I really, really love? What is holding me back?
Is an artist’s or a writer’s “work” ever really complete?! I heard a story once that the famous impressionist painter, Edgar Degas, stealthily climbed in the window of a patron that had bought one of his pieces to repaint the parts of the painting he just couldn’t live with. Maybe urban legend. However, as I took the coaching of that first rejection and looked again at my stories I began to see through a different filter. Just as an example I am posting the “before and after” of the ending to my story: “Around The Corner”. The bottom sketch shows the balloon lazily drifting to join a party of balloons in the land where lost balloons go. A very anti-climax kind of ending. This is the BEFORE. The top sketch is the REWORK and shows the balloon having a very different kind of adventure . . . with a little humor. This is the AFTER. MUCH more interesting! Well, reworked the whole story with new energy and yesterday, May 8, I pushed the “send” button two more times. Sent this story to TWO more possible literary agents. The line: “You have to do the work to do the work!” keeps running through my mind. A BIG thank you to my husband, Mike; my daughter, Katie; and various encouraging art friends. I am on a roll.
On the 19th of February, after the cat and tears drama previously reported, I pushed the first “send” button to electronically submit three of my stories to the first agency I applied to for representation. Since they indicated a 30 DAY response time, I, of course, anxiously checked my emails daily and boldly (or desperately) emailed the question to the agency: “Did you receive my submissions?” on the 26th DAY. Within a couple of hours I got an apologetic response of “we have no record of your submission”. Good thing I asked! The agent was very courteous, gave me a direct email to send my stuff to and answered me within 6 days with my first REJECTION!! Yay! I am on my way! Actually he was kind and gave me some instructive observations about my work. Then he added: “thx for submitting. i enjoyed these more than most.” (The world of email punctuation.) A little encouragement is fuel-to-the-fire. Back to the drawing and thinking boards I went.