Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I’ve been blogging blogging blogging about Lightship here, but off the Internet I’ve been finishing work on drawings for The Hinky-Pink, by Megan McDonald, a fine and funny folk tale-ish story of a young seamstress, set in Florence, Italy. Just a few weeks ago I thought that I was running at least a little late with these drawings. In what may be a first, though, it turns out that I am just about on time, which to a publisher is as good as early. Still, the book, which will come out next year from Richard Jackson Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (try saying that ten times fast), has been a long time coming, and I am grateful to Megan for the patience she has showed as the process has dragged out. In the best of circumstances an author can wait about two years to see a picture book text turned into, you know, a picture book, and The Hinky-Pink has been cooking for longer than that.
Given the above you might think that at the end of the strada it’s all relief and huzzahs here. The truth is that these big projects more often end with a whimper than a bang. And that’s no metaphor. This will sound a little dark, given that I love my work, but look at those pictures of our heroine Anabel up there, struggling to finish an important sewing gig. That pose is from the heart, reader. Illustrators and authors invest a lot of their professional and even personal hopes in their work, and several ironies and trials await those raw and vulnerable feelings at the end of each undertaking. First among them: By the end of a full-sized project like this you’ve logged so many hours at the desk that you can barely remember what you were trying to do in the first place, and yet it’s not until the whole thing is finished that you really get to see what you have in fact done and, more poisonously, could have done. Add to that the fact that in this line of work (“work”) you get about one shot on stage per year, and that's if you're lucky, and you can really crank up the pressure on yourself if all you do is sit around and, say, blog about this stuff.
Still, it beats the salt mines, and I know it. And fortunately there is a cure to the condition, which is to have the next project in mind (or already lined up, if you are, again, lucky), and to jump right back in.