Archive for February, 2013

Planes, Trains, Cars and Bounty Hunting (or an overseas trip)

2012-01-30a

Yep, that about sums up the next seven weeks of my life. Three planes, two trains and over three thousand kms of road will take us through seven countries on a massive European adventure. At least I’m calling it an adventure – some would call it insanity, considering how much driving we’ll be doing on the wrong side of the road, but I wont let that deter me.

And the bounty I’m hunting? Ideas, inspiration, writerly knowledge, illustratorly experiences, oddities and a whole lot of mischief. Plus, of course, rabbits. I am always on the lookout for rabbits. I will hopefully capture a few European varieties (you can see the ones I captured on my last big trip to America here, including the strange pink demon rabbit pictured above).

While in Europe I will get to do some pretty amazing things as a writer and illustrator, including*:

  • Scotland: I’ll be spending nearly two weeks in Edinburgh and St Andrews and several small towns in between, researching a young adult novel that I’m writing which happens to be set there. So much to look forward to … seaside villages all scuddy with cliffs, gothic churches, crumbling castles, eavesdropping on local teens. But most of all just generally absorbing the feel of the place and letting the world of my story settle into my skin.
  • England: I’ll be doing a short residency at Seven Stories, the UKs national centre for children’s books. I’ll get to be a part of some amazing exhibitions they’re putting together, browse their archives of original literary artefacts, help run activities for young people and learn from their expert staff all about engaging children in the world of books.
  • Italy: I’ll be attending the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the world’s leading children’s publishing event. I’ve had an image chosen for the second year running to be exhibited by the Australian Publisher’s Association Stand, and I’ll be featuring on their table doing live illustrations each day. Bologna also hosts an exhibition of the world’s leading illustrators, a bunch of professional development talks and is the years biggest networking event for creators, publishers and agents.
2011-02-21a

My travelling visual diary

I can’t really tell you whether I’m excited or nervous or completely overwhelmed by it all. The feelings are quite indistinguishable. But either way it’s going to be amazing.

It’s not all work type stuff though. We’ll also be seeing my family in England, heading to Berlin for my man’s birthday, off to Venice just because, then driving in a meandering style (ie. we’ll likely get lost) down through Italy, southern France and into Spain.

Needless to say I may not be around much over the next two months. If you do see me here, make sure to shoo me away from the computer. I’ll likely have other things I should be doing … like freezing my little cotton tail off in the biggest cold snap in Europe since the 80s.

Now it’s time to get packing, if my pup will ever let me…

2013-02-22

* A significant part of this trip is generously supported by a career development grant from Arts Queensland.

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I’m No Poet (but here are some haiku anyway)

Rabbit - floatIt’s so important as a writer to stretch your writing muscles. To step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Maybe even a little frightening. That’s what I did this Sunday, all in the capable hands of Graham Nunn, an incredible writer often referred to as Mr Poetry in Brisbane. He’s running a year long ginko course, a Japanese tradition where writers go on seasonal walks in natural landscapes to inspire and write haiku*.

Haiku have always fascinated me, but outside of the obligatory attempts in high school English, I’ve never tried them. As a children’s writer I have heard it said that a great picture book creator crafts each page like a haiku – quietly capturing an image or sound or thought, pinned down on the page in just a scatter of words. This is how I like to write. As you may have noticed (in my New Years Resolutions) I’m also interested in becoming more mindful in my writing practise, so this course seemed perfect.

For our summer ginko we all gathered at Karawatha Forrest and spent over an hour (longer for an unfortunate pair who got lost…) walking through the bush alone, taking down observations. It was such a great practise in stillness – in staying present and writing down what the world offered up. Words started to feel new again. Afterwards we all gathered to work on turning our observations into haiku. Here are some of my first attempts:

heavy sun

crow pleads

with the rusted tap

^ Crows appeared regularly in other writer’s work too. Although the crows themselves seemed indifferent to what we were doing.

leaves gather

dead trees disapprove

of movement

^ This is an example of not letting automatic thoughts intrude. I went to write about gusting trees, as I’m so used to them blowing about outside my home office window. But when I really looked, in truth I’d never seen such still trees.

summer ginko

must walk

to keep still

^ This one was inspired by Mr Poetry himself. He suggested we do a bush walk, but recommended spending most of our time sitting still. I found I had to walk a long way in order to do one of the walks within the hour, leaving little time for sitting :)

fresh air

city girl

trips on pollen

^ The world tells us we should make the most of fresh air. However this girl suffers allergies.

A couple of other snippets:

an intrusion of crows

watch grass die

.

flys ignore

personal space

.

twin trees

argue

A final thought on haiku and why I love them. It is said they often explore the concepts as captured by the Japanese words Wabi and Sabi:

  • Wabi: a sense of loneliness or solitude
  • Sabi: the suchness and beauty of ordinary objects

Now doesn’t that make you want to go out and write a haiku? Or read some?

* We were practising the more modern form of haiku, which doesn’t need to adhere to the 5/7/5 syllable structure


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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