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metraveling

 

I’m looking forward to speaking at the 2014 Jackson Elementary Writer’s Festival on May 7th. One of the goals of the event is to give young writers an audience. Student writing is shared and displayed in the school and local writers and writing enthusiasts are invited to mentor small groups.

Every time I visit a school I meet several kids who are already dedicated writers and illustrators. They are looking for readers (aren’t we all!) and searching for more information about the process. If you read this blog regularly you know my feelings on ‘process’. Everyone has one. And mine isn’t yours and yours isn’t right for me.

But writing is best practiced by – writing. (same goes for illustration) Writing is more important than reading if you want to write professionally. You can be a great reader – by reading. And no doubt it helps your writing. But to be a good writer you can’t just read. You need to make all those mistakes you will make while you write. And then fix them.

At least you have to try and fix them.

 

mfearing:

A post from Paul J. Zak, from Christy Heyob’s blog. A really interesting read about why stories are interesting to us. Why they can fasciate us. Why we are moved by them.

Originally posted on The art & animation of Christy Heyob:

Great article about storytelling via theGreater Good Science Center at Berkley.

ByPaul J. Zak| December 17, 2013

Ben’s dying.

That’s what Ben’s father says to the camera as we see Ben play in the background. Ben is two years old and doesn’t know that a brain tumor will take his life in a matter of months.

Ben’s father tells us how difficult it is to be joyful around Ben because the father knows what is coming. But in the end he resolves to find the strength to be genuinely happy for Ben’s sake, right up to Ben’s last breath.

Everyone can relate to this story. An innocent treated unfairly, and a protector who seeks to right the wrong—but can only do so by finding the courage to change himself and become a better person.

Arecent analysisidentifies this “hero’s journey” story as the foundation for more…

View original 1,685 more words

A few more rescue scans of stuff headed to the recycle bins.

I often really like a small, quick sketches on a page of a sketch book. Sometimes it wasn’t even the focus of what I was doing on that page.

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I like ‘rough’ art. The mistakes, the signs of struggle. The coincidence. I’ve always like the improvisational aspects of work in a sketchbook.

 

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Below are rough page layouts and character designs for a counting book I did. This never sold, but I created a dummy from it that I showed in my portfolio until I had published work.

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ideas

One of the most common questions an author, cartoonist or illustrator receives is, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’

This is somewhat straightforward to answer when you are contracted to illustrate a manuscript. I literally was handed a story to illustrate. Granted all the visuals must be created, so you are definitely generating visual ideas that must come from somewhere, but you have the architecture plans in hand – the manuscript.

John Cleese has lots of great quotes about creativity and ideas.

“We get our ideas from what I’m going to call for a moment our unconscious — the part of our mind that goes on working, for example, when we’re asleep. So what I’m saying is that if you get into the right mood, then your mode of thinking will become much more creative. But if you’re racing around all day, ticking things off a list, looking at your watch, making phone calls and generally just keeping all the balls in the air, you are not going to have any creative ideas.” ~ John Cleese

I recite an answer to the question of where I get my ideas when I give talks, which sounds much like every other author’s answers I’ve ever heard. And I think I began to believe it. It makes it sound likes it’s a discipline. Like you can take Idea Generation 101 at a university where you practice and develop and study and craft creating ideas. NO. You craft and refine and revise a manuscript or a sketch – which is based on an idea that comes from…????

When looking back on things it’s easy to think we see dots connecting to create an outcome. I think we mostly create those dots to fulfill a preconceived notion of ourselves. For those very same ‘dots’ could produce an infinite number of different outcomes. That they resulted in any particular event is simply a product of odds. So the looking back and pretending to know where an idea generated from is a comforting fiction we tell ourselves so that the world continues to unfold in an orderly action-reaction state.

A few weeks back I was sitting in the waiting room of a local athletic club. I was tired, a little bored, thinking about what I was going to make for dinner while I waited for my daughter to get done with swim team practice. And I was writing/doodling in my sketchbook, which I do all the time. And a story simply developed from a few sentences and a quick sketch.

I have NO idea where it came from. And of course no idea if it’s any good. But if I continue to revise it and if it is submitted to editors one day, I will follow up on this post.

But the fact is – I see no logical reason for that story to have appeared in my head at that moment. I hadn’t been working on it. It doesn’t have to do with swimming… it was totally random.

So much for knowing where ideas come from.

You read that headline right. Here in the US, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day is May, 15th. 

cookies_monster

I’m a big fan of cookies, especially chocolate chip cookies. I spent many years working in a bakery. The 4:30 AM shift wasn’t bad when I was 19 years old. I can’t quite imagine it now. I made crosisants, breads, muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls and lots of other stuff, but my favorite item to prepare and bake were cookies. I made many a cookie in those days (usually in huge batches of 5 or 6 dozen, monster size cookies) and still do (but now in far smaller batches).

Of course there are lots of recipes online for variations of the standard chocolate chip cookie. But I am partial to the old Tollhouse one, sans the walnuts.

I created a special illustration for the day. I might make a few t-shirts too.

Oh, you’ll be hearing more about this as it apporaches!

And here is a little background on the infamous cookie from ABC news last year.

A few more drawings that I scanned as they are on the way to the recycle bin.

More character designs for a show that never made it on air.

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Sometimes it’s just a page from a sketchbook with odds-n-ends that I like and it’s hard to get rid of.

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hair

Anxiety dogs me. Will anyone like my work, why are my drawings so tight/or too lose? You’d think I’d be a better speller by now, will anyone like my new manuscript, will I need another root canal soon?

Much of my anxiety is about work. Maybe its the same for you. I guess it’s an issue of control.

I don’t feel like I control much. Even my hair on my head. I mean, it’s MY hair on MY head. But it pretty much does as it pleases.

True I can resort to extremes when I need to – I can have it cut. That’s how I wrestle it under control.

When I comb it – it just laughs at me. I can put Dapper Dan in it. That may work for a short bit. But my hair still does what it wants. Everyone who knows me is used to seeing me and wondering if I ever comb my hair. I do. I try to get it to behave. But short of shaving it all off, it will do what it wants to do. So if I can’t even control the hair on my head, what hope do I have in controlling ‘real’ issues?

Many times it’s best to just go with it.

And that’s how to keep anxiety at bay.

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