A long time ago, in a land far away, I liked to sketch and paint. In this land, I illustrated my own children’s stories. You can see some of these paintings on the side panel. However, sketching and painting take time. As life moves on and brings more responsibilities, it becomes harder to indulge one’s creative sides.
When I started writing The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, in 2005, I attended a writing workshop taught by award-winning author, Kate de Goldi. I showed her one of my hand-illustrated manuscripts.
Kate was blunt. “You need to choose whether you want to be an illustrator, or a writer, and really focus on that.”
I wanted to be a writer. Letting go of illustrating freed up my time, which was at a premium with children underfoot and in my hair. Here I am, with my first book in The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, series coming up for release.
At the same time, another amazing project is coming to fruition.
A year ago exactly, some of my writer friends and I, gathered together to support our dear friend and colleague, author, Robyn Campbell, in her on-going efforts to raise awareness about Sturge-Weber Syndrome. We decided to write an anthology of short stories. Our concept was to write about gifted children. The book is called, Kissed By An Angel, and the proceeds will go to benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation.
The launch date for Kissed By An Angel, is set for mid-September (TBC). Catherine, another contributor, also wrote about it in her post, Anthology Illustration.
Some of the writers in the group asked me if I would do the cover. I thought, Can I? I didn’t know. I hadn’t touched a pencil or paintbrush in years and besides, I might have gotten rusty. Nevertheless, I brought out all my art materials. I literally had to dust them off!
I made four sketches and the KBAA collective of writers chose one, which most importantly also got the seal of approval from Christopher, Robyn’s son, who has Sturge-Weber.
Doing artwork however, as previously stated, takes time! Back in the day, I sat down and worked for hours on end. Move on a decade, and the sketch for the cover lay among the tissues on the kitchen table for days while the kids had flu. I’d draw one stroke, then dash away to blow someone’s nose, come back to the piece, draw a line, then race off to take someone a drink, come back, do another line, etc.
In the background, I still hadn’t finished putting in the edits to my own book. I got overwhelmed.
Friends suggested wisely, that you need to prioritise at times like these.
I made two things the top priorities: to finish putting the proof-reader’s edits into my novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and to do the cover for the Kissed By An Angel, anthology.
I sat down at my computer with the proof-reader’s notes and stayed at my post until the pile whittled down to nil at eleven o’clock last night. Then, I posted the manuscript to a friend, who’s going to make the final check for typos.
Yes! The satisfaction of ticking off that box!
Although it was late and I was tired, I looked at the art supplies on the bench, and the template for the KBAA cover, and I felt this real wave of enthusiasm to get started. I applied the first background wash of watercolour. I didn’t go to bed till 1.30 a.m. yet I sprang up at six this morning! I’ll paint the next layers with water colour and add the bright gouache today.
This is what I have so far for the cover of KBAA.
Getting to do something different creatively, to draw and paint, I realized is like taking a vacation.
It’s an artistic absence that is good for the soul. I’ve had about five hours sleep, and yet I feel utterly refreshed, energised and alive. I have a new skip in my step.
There is energy to be found in doing what you love.
There is definite wisdom in Kate’s advice, to focus on mastering one talent at a time. And there’s also something to be said for taking a break from focus and mastery, and allowing oneself to play and have fun!
One needs to be replenished in order to be fruitful.
The whole anthology has such poignancy and meaning for all of us. It’s an honour to be involved. And when you’re busy putting out your own book, it’s nice to put your attention on someone else for a change.
Each writer contributing to the KBAA collection was invited to do an illustration or send a photo to accompany their piece. I can see an ink sketch in my mind’s eye. But I’m saving that for third on my list of priorities, once the cover is complete.
With the anthology and my debut novel due for release in the next four to five weeks, things are hotting up. If I occasionally fail to show up here, please mark it down to artistic absence. Either that or I’ve run away to be an artist!
How about you? Have you another creative outlet that gives you joy? Are you doing what replenishes your soul and restores you to fruitfulness?
*Watch this space: release dates for, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and, Kissed By An Angel, to be announced soon!*
From Chaos Central…
Yvette K. Carol
After traditionally publishing a few, I switched and won’t go back. I love the control over my book’s destiny. Every choice is an act of love. ~ D. Wallace Peach
The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins. ~ Bob Moawad