When I sat down in the big room at the conference on Friday morning, I cried.... I did, I actually cried. I couldn't believe I was there. I couldn't believe I cried, and would continue to do so throughout the 4 days at odd moments of inspiration, hope, gratitude and fear. Every single person there was an inspiration. The lectures were informative, the speeches were profound and my children were having a blast with their Dad.
I came to the conference as an artist/illustrator. I came with my book. "What's Your Name Again?" I didn't come as an illustrator. People always told me, you should do children's books. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I never felt that way, I didn't just want to illustrate some random story. So.... I came with my own. My family's story, my story inspired by my 5 year old daughter and her relationship with my Mom, her 78 year old Nana who has Alzheimer's disease. The story came from my sketch book, which I drew after she visited us for Thanksgiving last year.
I even entered the manuscript review.... Mac McCool a graphic novelist, really liked it. He was thrilled that I could get so much emotion out of so few words. 110 to be exact. I, was even more thrilled. He nominated it for the Sue Alexander award, which picks one manuscript from the whole conference and the winner wins a trip to the New York Conference and a review with 3 editors. I find out in September.
The keyword here is MANUSCRIPT, not pictures, he didn't really like the pictures. But, I'm an artist? It was odd information for me, information that I didn't really know what to do with.
After I picked up my fragile artistic ego off the floor, I began to think a little bit....
I've learned a lot making this book, going to the conference, and listening and looking and....well, I love my story, my book, my idea, my drawings. I want the world to see it to, I want to make a connection. I'm looking at the drawings again, sketches really, they were a means for me to tell the story, and while I spent so much time on the book, making sure it was 32 pages, that it told the story right with the help of my very own personal and talented editor Allen Keller , and working on the computer, I never re-visited the art, I took them for granted because in my mind I know what they will and should look like. I love them, but I want them to have a more finished look, so that they can be seen and felt better by the viewer, ie: editors. I thought a "dummy" book was just that, a dummy or mock up of unfinished sketches that gave the tone and character and action of the book, without having to do all the work. Wrong! I learned that, that is not necessarily so. Yeah, sure, maybe if you have a couple of books published and your editor knows what to expect and your style is. But... an unknown like me, the illustrations must be spot on how you want them.
So, here I am. Home. The children are sleeping, I should be too, actually I should be drawing, but I'm too tired and excited and in my case makes for really crummy pictures.
Thank you to all the wonderful people at the conference for giving me this belief in my art and also in myself.