"Do you run?" you might ask.
"Only when chased." I would reply.
"Do you blog?" you might ask.
"Only when tagged."
So thank goodness for K.G. Campbell tapping me on the virtual shoulder and saying... "You're it!"
Last week, the funny and fabulously talented K.G. Campbell was "it" in this 4 question game of blog tag. A game in which a bunch of authors and illustrators are running about tagging each other's blogs, answering questions about their working process.
Here is a link to Mr. Campbell's Q and A.
And here is mine...
Ready. Set. Go!
What am I currently working on?
I'm usually juggling 3 projects simultaneously.
This is what is on my desk today...
Work in Progress from SEA REX (Summer 2015, Viking) @mollyidle via Instagram
I'm also scribbling away on sketches for ZOMBELINA DANCES THE NUTCRACKER, by Kristyn Crow (Fall 2015, Bloomsbury).
And... FLORA AND THE PEACOCKS (Spring 2016, Chronicle)
How does my work differ from others of it's genre?
This is an interesting question. I think that if I were a writer of thrilling crime mysteries, or satire, or historical fiction, it might be easier to find a genre basis of comparison, and then to say how my work differs. But picture books aren't really a genre. They're a medium. They are means to tell a story, like a novel, or a comic strip, or a movie. There are as many different ways to utilize the medium of picture books as there are different people making them... that's one of the things I love most about them (picture books and picture book makers).
And while I don't constrain myself to any particular genre when working within the medium of picture books, I do find that the stories I gravitate towards, the stories I want to tell, do tend to have a few elements in common.... improbability, theatricality, sincerity and humor.
Why do I write what I write?
Because I enjoy it! And because I love a challenge.
An idea for a story will strike me, and the prospect of telling it, and telling it well, is at once tantalizing and terrifying.
The terror is what causes me to procrastinate.
I know the depth of the work involved in getting a story just right. It's daunting. No sane person would willingly spend months, or years, fussing over 32 pages and 200 words, or 50 words, or one word... or no words! So, often, I will sit on idea, mulling it over for ages in my mind before I ever put pencil to paper.
But the terror is inevitably overcome by the tantalizing vision I had in that moment when an idea lit. That warm mental lightbulb glow... The vision of how awesome the story could be... So, I start scribbling.
How does my storytelling process work?
Does my storytelling process work? This questions supposes that it does...and I like that idea...so I'm running with it! (This is the only other instance in which you will see me run.)
I sometimes wish fervently that I had a set process which worked for every story...
Every story, every project, seems do demand it's own way of working. And so, I find I'm reinventing the wheel whenever I start something new.
Sometimes the words come first, sometimes an image, sometimes a whole world magically appears out of nowhere and it seems all I have to do is take dictation.
But however it begins, I find myself amassing a bunch of words scribbled in my notebook and a bunch of earnest, if unintelligible, lines drawn in my sketchbook. They look like this...
When I think I have everything figured out, I start working on constructing full sentences and/or full sketches. That is to say, that I think I have everything figured out to make the story work. But that is a very different thing than having everything figured out that will make the story work as a picture book.
Those are two very different things. I mean, can make a really beautiful drawing that works compositionally... But that doesn't matter a lick, if it doesn't work in the context of the book. Pacing, page turns, design, all this gets figured out when I start working to scale on the sequential images. Like this...
That's the uphill work for me. Once the sketches are done, the rest of the process feels like coasting...
FLORA and the PENGUIN (September 2014, Chronicle)
I am out of questions, out of answers, and out of breath from all this virtual running.