Wednesday, January 28, 2009
From barnyard to page
Here's a sneak peek at some children's illustrations I'm working on - these are crops from two pieces. I hesitate to show the entire images right now, as I want to pitch them as a series. But I'm having fun with them, and really enjoy creating these little personalities.
I was really interested in yesterday's NPR interview of Neil Gaiman who just won the John Newberry Medal for his children's book 'The Graveyard Book'. Not only did I love the idea of his story, but hearing him talk about how he wrote it as a book, not necessarily as a children's or adult book, resonated with my style of writing. Now that I'm working on my first novel, I glean whatever I can from wherever I can. I am taking the bold position of "I am a writer", and just writing. I used the same approach in 1996 when I declared [to myself, and maybe the dog] "I am an illustrator". When I moved from Minneapolis to Portland in '02, I told myself I felt like writing. It wasn't until '06 when we had settled a bit at the farm, and someone suggested I start a blog [Thank you Stephanie, see what you've done?], that I started writing little stories and realized how much I liked it.
Since I have no formal training in writing a novel, I am stumbling through it in my raggedy fashion, I percolate the same way I do my paintings or art, usually before I go to sleep, and when I first awake. I have had the first sentence of the book written for a very long time, and have a glimpse of an ending. I have no concerns the middle will fill itself in as I go.
Of course I'm not writing it alone. When I'm working on those characters, I swear, they come to life. Or they are living - I walk to the barnyard, and I see a donkey skirt by. It looks just like the stance and posture of the donkey in my book. It's as if I live in two planes that are on level fields. Stepping in and out, from one plane to the other - at some points is not necessary. It all meshes together. Let me make one thing clear, I know my animals are animals. But by making them 2 dimensional in a book, and then adding stories and words and thoughts, they are 3 dimensional to a whole new set of readers - just like they are to me. Not only can I amuse readers with their stories, I can perhaps share their essence and subtle compassions, fears and imperfections that we as humans face every day. It's just something I want to do.