Friday, February 24, 2012

Slow Train Coming

This was apparently the take-away message from a school visit I did a couple of years ago. It was true then, and it’s truer now. I’ve been working on my current author/illustrator project, Locomotive, for longer than I care to say. 

What happened? 
The book started off simply enough a few years ago, when I pitched a picture book about a steam locomotive to Atheneum/Simon & Schuster. The idea was simple: to show a locomotive going from Point A to Point B, and in the process to show how one of these marvelous machines worked. After a couple of false starts, I sold a draft of the book, and everything seemed, as they say, on track.
What I had not really figured out yet, though, was exactly what and when Points A and B would be. Eventually I settled on a ride on America’s first transcontinental railroad. I set my engine on that line of track, in the summer of 1869, and pointed it west—and then the trouble began. The amount of information I was handling expanded like steam in a boiler. With hindsight I realize that I had imagined, naively, that the choice of setting would affect only the finishing touches of the book—the views outside the window, that sort of thing. Instead it meant rebuilding the book from the foundation up. It took me a while to figure that out, and then it took me a while to figure out what to do about it. 

And now, finally, I am painting, painting, painting.
I’m working toward a May deadline, aiming for a Fall 2013 book. 
Let the following illustration say something about my pace, but also let it show that the book is underway. My hand is on the throttle, my eye is on the rail!