My submission for the poster contest.
Poem "Infirm Pachyderm" by Jane Yolen.
If you’ve been, you know why I’m squealing with delight. If
you haven’t, then what I say here can’t possibly fully convey how wonderful it
is to spend three days with kid-lit folk, see old friends, meet new ones, and
soak up wisdom, energy, and knowledge from so many esteemed writers, illustrators,
editors, and agents. I return feeling warmed to my core and full to the brim:
with knowledge, with inspiration, and with love for these folk and what we’ve all dedicated our lives to. Full and gushy and overflowing.
I’m also shocked and delighted to be able to say that I won
1st prize in the “published” category of the NESCBWI poster
illustration contest. I’m still shaking my head in wonder.
I'm also thrilled and excited to say that my wonderful, extremely talented crit partners and dear friends, Dave Bird and Mary Davison, took out 1st and 3rd in in the "unpublished" category, including Dave winning the major prize of the R.Michelson Galleries Award. Congrats, guys, I'm so, so proud of you.
Thank you, thank you to the incredibly hard-working and dedicated organizers, faculty, and volunteers who make these conferences possible. You are full to the brim
I’m not posting much these days. I started this blog to cure
a wretched case of writer’s block, which wasn’t just affecting my writing. It
was my visual art, too. It was my visual art especially, in fact, though I wasn’t getting any books finished, either.
I’m in a very good creative place these days, and so my spare moments are easily
filled with non-blogging creative activity.
But a little over two years ago, being back in this good creative
place was all but impossible to imagine. Writing was—at best—difficult, and the
mere thought of drawing or painting made me nauseous. I had grown frustrated
and desperate creatively, and almost everything I tried to draw or paint (if I even dared try) seemed
only to bolster those feelings. I was sitting slumped against the Wall of Terror
that causes so much creative paralysis, trying to scramble over it, or using my
head as a battering ram. Something had to give, and it was not going to be my desire to make things; it would have to be the Wall.
And then, quite suddenly, just
when I really needed it, things began to shift.
So much of my creative time since then has been about reaching
out, opening up, and simply walking through the Wall. I’m finding it’s not that
hard if you set a small goal and a firm deadline, and only focus on those. Having
strong, like-minded allies is vital, too.
From illustration for NESCBWI poster contest 2013.
Sure, taking a chance, creating your soul out, and exposing
your work can be as emotionally treacherous as they are joyful, but on this side
of the wall is only stagnation, disappointment, and then bitterness. After all, if life’s
end is your only deadline, you can have no concerns about making it.
I am off to the New England SCBWI regional conference on
Friday, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve submitted a piece for the
poster illustration competition. Huzzah! That fact alone speaks volumes. So if and when I reach it again, I must remember the Wall of Terror is like a membrane—stretchy, transparent, and porous; just look a
little beyond it and push gently.
New Year is my favorite holiday of
all. It always has been, ever since I can remember. There’s nothing else like it
for me. It’s the perfect holiday in every way. If you’re into New Year, you already
know what I mean. If you scoff at resolution-making, finding a burst of unquenchable
energy from an otherwise arbitrary day, and think letting yourself start fresh
again and again is for the birds, I may not be able to convince you.
But try a different way of looking at it. It will be transformational, I promise. ;)
I started New Year’s Day with a walk
through the dark frozen forest before dawn. I had only intended to let Baxter have a
run by the lake while I took a few shots of the sun rising on my most special of
days, to see the light on the ice, to just to reflect in that perfect still
moment of a brilliant new beginning.
But Bax looked at me, saying, “Duuude,
why are we stopping? What did we come here for? It’s a brand new year. 2013, man!
And so we did, all around the lake and through the woods. There must be many equally good ways to start a year, but I believe none could actually be better.
Later in the morning, I found myself wandering with lovely, like-minded friends at Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge on the southern Rhode Island coast—a really terrific place to walk about in any season, but spectacular in winter. (And if you’re into birds, you might well see something new as I did yesterday.)
As I always do there, I paused by this perfect monument to what must have been a life well lived:
I've been thinking a lot recently about how we often tend to rush pivotal moments in our writing, and that will be the subject of a near future blog post, but the same is true for all things. It would be better not to postpone joy, nor to rush it when we find it. The best experiences should be sought with vigor and then savored.
Check out this delightfully funky bird pattern by illustrator and designer Leslie Breen Withrow, then fly on over to her blog and view her other wonderful work: http://lesleybreenwithrow.blogspot.com/2012/12/bird-pattern.html I'll have a funky bird skirt made of this, thank you very much! Leslie and her family live right here in Rhode Island, and her husband Steven Withrow is the co-producer of the uber fabulous Library of the Early Mind, a documentary that explores children's literature and its vital importance. If you care about kids' books and kids' minds, it's a must see: http://www.libraryoftheearlymind.com/About.html It's also very entertaining.