There are many ways in which to tell a story. Some of us use words. Others use images. This lady uses sand.
Her tale is about the German invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII. I’d suggest grabbing a box of tissues before you sit down to watch her weave her magic. She’s absolutely brilliant.
The business of writing is an interesting road. It brings surprising twists and turns as you journey along it. I remember early on (we’re talking years ago) I thought that after finding an agent and getting that first contract, all the stress would go. I learnt quickly that the truth is that each stage brings different stressors. I thought that with all I’d learnt so far and all I’d seen others go through that I was reasonably prepared. What I didn’t expect was the pressure.
Since signing with my agent, and even more so since getting my first book contract, I’ve been feeling this incredible pressure. Pressure to live up to people’s expectations. Pressure to keep producing work (and to better myself each time). Pressure to use the time I have to be really productive (because everyone keeps telling me I’ll have no time soon). Pressure to follow the path that people want/expect me to follow (picture books Vs novels). Pressure to be successful (whatever that is). Pressure now knowing that I’m no longer writing just for myself. Pressure that is sometimes completely unnamable but follows me around the house.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot – it’s impossible NOT to think about it because it’s keeping me up at night! – but the ultimate truth is that the pressure is coming from me. My agent is wonderful to work with, and completely happy to work at my pace. My editor is delightful and is currently away, so we’re not even working on edits yet. But me – I suppose I’ve always had high expectations of myself. I think many writers do – how else do we continue to write through rejections? We’re constantly told that this industry is so tough to break into, so now with my first book looming my brain is saying ‘this is your chance’ and ‘don’t stuff it up’ and ‘if you don’t keep working hard it will slip away from you’.
I can laugh at myself, though. I’m only a few months in and I already sound like a drama queen. Where I’m at is exactly where I’ve always wanted to be. I feel incredibly lucky and will never complain (kick me if I do). But I’m still learning. I feel pink and new. There are no rules for writing as a career, so I’m just trying to find what works for me.
The feeling of pressure most concerned me because I was having trouble writing. But today I’m back on the keyboard, fingers clacking over letters and words appearing on the screen. My Writing Critic’s voice is strong, but I’m fighting him better today. One word at a time. One foot in front of the other. Shrugging the pressure from my shoulders and trying to get back to just enjoying where this road takes me.
I wonder if others have had unexpected reactions to the different steps in seeking publication?
They say if you’re going to have a website, you need to keep it up to date. There’s nothing more annoying than visiting a favourite author’s site, only to find it doesn’t have their latest information on it (or even worse – it was made when dinosaurs roamed the earth). I’m usually pretty on top of updates, however there were some parts of my site that I was avoiding. So today was the day for it: with frilly apron on and equipped with a trusty broom and some toxic cleaning products, I swept out all the cobwebs, dusted the shelves, repainted the walls and put up some new pictures. While the design has remained the same, there’s plenty of new info:
- I’ve updated Writing Methods, as with experience my process has changed
- I’ve updated Illustration Techniques, since finding my artistic mojo
- And most exciting: I’ve added a Books page (even though I have little to put there just yet)
Feel free to hop off and check it out (and let me know if there are any missing links or embarrassing spelling mistakes…)
Published October 16, 2009
Tags: fun, fun theory
Who wouldn’t love a theory about fun?
We all have them. Books we wish we’d written. And for me, there is no other author that has written more of them than Kate DiCamillo. She writes the kind of books I can only dream of creating:
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
The Tiger Rising
The Tale of Despereaux
If you haven’t read them, do it. Now. I’m not certain how she does it, but she fills each of her tales with such magic and wonder and heart aching truth. She’s really quite brilliant. And it would seem she’s done it again with The Magician’s Elephant:
I could cry for wanting to read this book…