Sorry I’ve been a bit absent of late. I’ve been squirrelling (or rabbiting?) away on the edits of Squish Rabbit, with lots of to and fro with my editor and art director. When I say this, people often react with something like ‘How much are they making you change?’ I’m surprised so many people feel this way, because I’ve always imagined creating a book is a collaborative process. And not just something that was forced on people, but rather a positive process – something to be excited about.

In no other industry do people work alone. When I was an Occupational Therapist, I might have seen my clients alone, but I had regular supervision sessions – a place where I could openly discuss cases with someone more senior than myself, so we could share the decisions. I also worked in an office with countless other OTs and allied health professionals, and we were constantly discussing cases and throwing ideas around. I loved that process. Even those in private practice organise supervision or maintain links with public services for support and learning.

Yet when it comes to creative pursuits, people harbour this ideal of the ‘lone creator’. The individual slaving away at their desk. The isolated mind. The single genius who creates entire worlds. Ha!

In a way, this image terrifies me. I’d go insane if that was me. Not only that, but I know that my work would never be the best it could be if I worked in isolation. I rely on others’ feedback, in all stages of my writing and illustration – from the very first, rough idea, through to the finished manuscript.

My editor and art director have been so good for me. With encouragement and constructive feedback, they’ve helped me to take the story to a new level. I’ve learnt so much, things that will change the way I work from now on. It wasn’t always easy, but sometimes the most challenging bits of feedback are the most important.

I know not everyone is as lucky as I’ve been. I’m working with people who clearly respect me as a creator, and are focussed on nurturing my vision for the story. But I do think that collaboration can be a wonderful thing, not something to be feared or shunned.

5 Responses to “Collaboration”

  1. 1 aaronpocock June 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Collaborations a necessary thing in the publishing world eh Katherine. It’s important in that it teaches you to ‘let go’ a little and see things from other angles. Sometimes it can be a little hard, especially if it’s something you’ve invested a lot in and the creative team just don’t ‘get it’. It’s great to be open to it. I’m sure so many creative minds simply don’t get as far as they might purely based on ego limitations…..

  2. 2 Dee White June 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    I totally agree with this, Kath. My book Letters to Leonardo ended up being so much better for having worked with a great editor.


  3. 3 Angela Sunde June 27, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Totally agree, Kath. When I told friends about the to-ing and fro-ing process of editing, one said “I wouldn’t expect a kids book would need any editing”. Eeeek!

  4. 4 Janeen Brian June 28, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Having experiences in both camps, Kath, I’d opt for the whole-hearted collaboration every time. Earlier in my career, as a head-nodding novice, I didn’t trust my own ideas enough and the so-called ‘collaboration’ slid into an imbalance, where I submitted far too much. Some of which I regretted later on. But when you have a team of people who respect each other’s creativity or role in the production of the book, it can only help to enhance the book.

  5. 5 Katherine Battersby June 29, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Angela, eek indeed! Where do you even start when someone says something like that…?

    Janeen, you’re so right – mutual respect is the key element. I can imagine that not all relationships are as well balanced as mine has been so far. As a novice, I think I feel more comfortable about the whole process knowing I have an agent who supports me and my work – it’s helped to boost my confidence through the editing process.

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

Released Sept 2012:


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