The past few months have been full of many things: writing a manuscript, drawing a book, attending my first library conference, and—last but not least—getting ready for a baby! My son is due to arrive any day now, forever changing the lives of my husband and I in ways that we can’t yet comprehend. But before our little one gets here, I’d love to share a quick look at what’s been on my desk these past few months:
In April, I started writing the manuscript for my next book, How To Be An Elephant, a process that has been full of stops and starts and frustration-filled days.
I often felt overwhelmed by all that I had read and all that I hadn’t; with so many thousands of articles and books out there about African elephants, how should I go about narrowing down the right information into a story about just one family with one newborn calf?
Word by word, line by line, a draft of the book came together. The manuscript still needed some heavy revising, but after weeks of work I was finally ready to begin diving into making the final art.
May and June were spent designing and creating final watercolor paintings for Elephant, filling my studio with oranges, purples, and greens as I looked for the right mood to show off these gorgeous creatures in their Kenyan home.
Like the manuscript, the process was full of trials and errors: A whole herd of elephants on nearly every spread? And all those wrinkles in the elephants’ skin! What was I thinking?!
The paintings were also an enormous writing challenge, too: What’s the best way to express the story through each composition and page turn in the book? It’s not enough to draw elephants showing off their skills—each piece of visual information has to build toward a greater message, a greater goal!
Not to mention the physical demands of sitting at a desk got harder and harder as my pregnancy progressed.
Fortunately, in June I had the priveledge of flying to San Francisco to attend my very first American Library Association conference, held just a few miles inland from my most favorite group of great white sharks.
I took a break from my drawing desk and signed books, attended talks, spoke on a panel with other 2015 ALA winners, and had the enormous honor of receiving my official Sibert Honor Award plaque for Neighborhood Sharks.
It was a joy to meet so many of the librarians, teachers, and book sellers who have been so supportive of my work; if I met you at the conference, thank you so much for introducing yourself. Meeting my readers has made my job real, because the work has finally reached beyond the four walls of my studio!
Finally, July and the past few weeks of August found me back at work in my studio, racing a ticking baby clock to complete as much of the book as possible before our little one arrived.
And as of last week, the large interior art is in and off to the scanners. Woohoo!!
The ride downtown to deliver the paintings to Macmillan felt a little like Christmas morning. It’s so nice to finally have the work out of my studio and into my editor’s hands—How To Be An Elephant is one step closer to becoming a finished book.
Many more blog posts await on the making of How To Be An Elephant. This project has been harder than anything I’ve tackled yet and there’s still much to do before the end of the year, so I’ll have plenty to share with you about each stage of the process in the coming weeks and months.
Thank you for stopping by, and for your support and interest in my work!