Thursday, May 12, 2016

the story that wants to be told




"It's that thing, always, of getting out of my own way.  
I feel like the story knows more than I do.  The story is smarter than I am.  
And wiser. And so I can't make the story conform to me because it would ruin the story.
The story shapes me.  

Every book that I've written has changed me and deepened me.  

So then I'm in different territory entirely than I anticipated.  But I've been doing it long enough now 
to know that I want to be in a different territory than I anticipated.  
Because that's where all the wisdom is, in this story that wants to be told, 
as opposed to me telling the story.  






I love this quote.  And I find it to be true with drawing as well.  Many of my favorite drawings seem to shape themselves.  They might begin with a familiar curve but they quickly wander off into unfamiliar territory.  They too, have a story to tell.  And my job, is to listen.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

what matters



"My work is loving the world.
Are my boots old?  Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished."

-from Messenger by Mary Oliver






So this happened a while back, but a selection from my portfolio is now up on the Writers House Art Website.  It's hard to find words to describe the feeling of seeing my name there alongside the names of SO MANY of my Picture Book heroes.  So a picture instead—







And the Mary Oliver poem in its entirety here—


Messenger

My work is loving the world.



Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—

          equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.


Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?

Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
          keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,


which is mostly standing still and learning to be
          astonished.

The phoebe, the delphinium.

The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.

Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,



which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart

          and these body-clothes,

a mouth with which to give shouts of joy

          to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,

telling them all, over and over, how it is

          that we live forever.


Monday, May 2, 2016

time

 

"Art requires time — there’s a reason it’s called a studio practice."

-Teresita Fernández









Sunday, February 14, 2016

giving



"Telling our stories is the way we open the door
to giving our hearts away.  Giving my heart away
has been the secret to finding it."





Playing with a few new things here, all hearts...







Monday, February 8, 2016

hope


“People wish to be settled; 
only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.” 
–Emerson



A few new pieces here, from the past few weeks— arguments with flowers, stones and spoons.



arguing with flowers



arguing with stones


arguing over spoons

Friday, January 15, 2016

weak in the knees


"Just a glimpse of its cover made me weak in the knees...
and THAT is what we have the great honor of building."  

-Adam Rex 
(upon rediscovering a long forgotten book from childhood)





More news!

I'm feeling a bit weak in the knees, and also a bit like flying these days, with even more news 
to share— 


 


My first book has found a home! With Namrata Tripathi and Lily Malcolm at Dial Books For Young Readers and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Namrata Tripathi has edited some truly incredible books, including— Gaston, My Cousin Momo, No Fits, Nilson! (a forever favorite in our house), Lulu and the Brontosaurus, Hug Machine, Zombie in Love, Circus Mirandus, and Noggin.  

Lily Malcolm is the Art Director behind most of those books as well as MANY more that I love— Roller Girl, One Cool Friend, Robo-Sauce,  I'll Give You The Sun and The Moon Is Going To Addy's House to name just a few.  I've been fortunate to hear them both speak at SCBWI conferences and am honored to have this chance to work with them.

You can find the official Publishers Weekly announcement (and read about some other amazing books to look forward to) here.



  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

thrilled



"Take a deep breath, and slow down." 

"My first piece of advice is always to slow down."

-Steven Malk 



 

 

BIG NEWS! 


I'm thrilled to announce that I am now represented by Steven Malk
literary agent at Writers House!

 

 

 

A little back story—  

 

It started with a book.  A gift from a friend, not long after my daughter was born.  The book was All In A Day, by Cynthia Rylant and Nikki McClure.  My whole family loved it— we loved the art, we loved the words.  And I was struck by how well they worked together.  And then I began to wonder how Nikki (whose calendars had hung in our home for years) came to work with such an extraordinary writer on her first picture book.  

A little research led to this interview with literary agent Steven Malk.  A little more research and I realized he represented not two, not five— but more than twenty of my favorite writers and illustrators.  He represented the people who made the books that I LOVED.  Books like The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, Mrs. Crump's Cat, All the World, and Extra Yarn.  Books that became part of the language of my family, books that changed my life.

And so, impressed by the interview, I rushed to query him a few days later, with an alphabet story I'd written and illustrated.  And he declined to represent me.  But, he was encouraging.  And I had a sense of something bigger now, a vision of the kinds of books I'd like to make.  Not books that I could make yet, but the books that I wanted to make.  So I kept drawing, I kept writing.  Since then I've heard Steve speak at three SCBWI conferences.  And each time he's said the same thing— be intentional, take the long view, slow down.

Steve has a philosophy that, with patience, passion and effort— people can make beautiful things.   

That book, that first query—was four years ago.  And it's been fifteen years, since I knew this was the work I wanted to do.  And now— seven SCBWI conferences (regional and national) and eight book dummies later, I am thrilled to be working with Steve.  

Persistence can be hard to maintain.  Practicing patience, for me, is even harder.  But it helps when I think of it as a dance— in slow motion.  For even the slowest of dances has rhythm and flow.

All of which brings to mind these words by Ira Glass, words that have been such good company on this journey—


“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me. 
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.  

And the thing that I would say to you, with all of my heart, is this— 

most everybody I know who does interesting, creative work went through a phase— they went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this.  And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you've got to  know it's normalAnd the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.  It is only by going through a volume of work that you will catch up and close that gap.  And the work you're making will be as good as your ambitions. 

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes a while It’s gonna take you awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. And you've just got to fight your way through that okay?”