Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm singing again!

Following a bout with acid reflux, my throat is almost healed, and I'm sounding pretty fly, sitting here belting out a couple Earth Wind & Fire tunes recently downloaded to my iPod. "Dance—Ooh—ooh—ooh—Dance! Boggie Wonderland!"

Look out, Maurice White, my recently healed vocal chords are easily hitting those falsettos — somewhat raggedy, but I've got my voice back. Now, I'd better get a haircut because I'm starting to look like Maurice White from his "best of" days.

Now, I'm gonna use my voice to make a few phone calls. I can't stand to wait another day to find out what's going on with the manuscripts I have out. I know that breaks the rules, but I'm not good with rules. Good gosh!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

No voice

Dallas' SCBWI fall conference, in which I am a speaker, is only a month away, and I'm getting very concerned. Not because of my public speaking fears, that's a whole other blog. But because I'm having some voice issues. Two days ago, I completely lost my voice and today, it's not much better.

As far as getting sick, catching my daughter's stomach bug, I thought I was out of the woods. But, a few days ago, I started waking up in the middle of the night with a raw throat and a lot of congestion. My chest burned, and I had trouble breathing. Between that, and a loving, but nagging wife, I went to see a doctor. I thought maybe I had bronchitis or a bad chest cold, no big deal. But the doctor confirmed that I have acid reflux, and it's been eating away at my esophagus, including my voice box.

He says that my voice may come back, but not without some lifestyle changes. No coffee, tea, or late night eating. That will be difficult because I love coffee (a pot is brewing right now), and I normally work till 11 p.m. When I get home, I'm ready for dinner, then it's off to bed. No more large meals or carbonated beverages. I love big ole hamburgers, and Mountain Dew. No booze, which is really not a big thing since I went on beer diet about 4 months ago. And I have to elevate my bed 6-inches at the headboard so everything in my stomach will stay where it's supposed to.

In other news: I recently learned that my licensing agent, Suzanne Cruise, will be speaking here in Austin at our SCBWI fall conference. That's very exciting. Though I've been working with Suzanne for more than 10 years, I first met her at SCBWI Los Angeles, last month. She mentioned wanting to come to Austin, and I mentioned our conference. After a bit of finagling, it all worked out, and now she will be speaking to our artist with an interest in licensing their art outside of the world of children's publishing.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Howdy Buckaroos

This weekend, I went to a birthday party for one of my son's school friends. Usually, I don't do birthday parties. My son — socialite he is — receives at least three birthday party invites per month, and since the wife attends all of 'em, because it's the nice thing to do, I've had to make it my policy not to attend any. Hope that doesn't make me out to be a bah-humbug, but calculations indicate that I could easily clock-in up to 15-hours per month doing birthday parties. Um, no thanks.

But for this particular kid, a friend of my son's since birth, I decided to go, and I'm so glad I did. The party was held at Little Buckaroo Ranch. The owners raise horses, and, on the side, host parties. One of the story ideas I've been kicking around involves a ranch. Thing is, I had no idea what a ranch really was, so I'd planned to interview someone who lives on one. This birthday party turned out to be timely, and profitable. Maybe I should reconsider my policy on toddler birthday parties.

Cowboy Bob wasn't so keen to me at first, my asking him questions about his ranch, and what he does all day besides giving birthday parties. But after I explained that I was a children's illustrator/writer, he changed his 'tude. His answers were very insightful, but also changed the direction of my story. One thing he said was so funny, I now have to write my story around his comment. Problem is, I still like my original story idea, so maybe, now have two stories to write.

And, did I mention my recent foray into cowboyhood?

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Just woke up from a nap
After taking mom to the airport.

As I walk into my studio,
I can hear my footsteps
Brushing against the carpet.

The house is quiet.

There's a hum in the air,
A hum not heard in over ten days,
Having out-of-town guest in the house.

It's a pleasant hum, peaceful.
A low-grade purr that soothes,
Allowing me to think. Finally.

Life has returned to normal, whatever normal is.

It's a sad hum, too — lonely.
An almost empty noise, hollow, cold.
Less life.
Because for the past two weeks,
The hum was drowned by toddler screams,
And adult screams, too: STOP! GET DOWN! NO!

This new hum lacks my mother's warm playfulness,
And her giggles. And relentless teasing.
It says that my daughter and grandson
Have returned home,
That mom is now in route to Iowa.

It's a hum that reminds me
That there's two less cooks in the house,
And I'm hungry, and the refrigerator is empty.
So, I'd better get off this computer
And go get some fast-food.
'Cause I don't care much about hums
When I'm doggin' down a cheese burger.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Frazzled Friday

How do you cram 13 years of budget cuts, and policy changes, amounting to millions of dollars, into two-and-a-half inches of space, and include dates, dollar figures, headlines, sources, credits, and also include four lines of a descriptive introduction sentence in a font size large enough to read? And do it without pulling out patches of your hair. Permanently.

I have no idea. But I'm absolutely frazzled trying to figure it out.

Bye Pluto

Pluto ain't a planet no more! What do they mean? Of course it is. Has been for the last 42 years, as long as I've been living. How can they just change things up on us like this, make a liar out of my fourth-grade teacher by declassifying the only planet I can ever recall, now callin' it a dwarf? Let me see now, there's Pluto, and then there's...Saturn! Then Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Of course, I like Dopey and Sleepy, too, though Pluto was always my favorite. Sigh. I'm confused. And rambling.

Good-bye Pluto.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What is an illustration?

Recently, I was asked to judge a college magazine competition, the non-photo illustration category. I was excited, reminded me of my days at DMACC. But, looking at the submitted pieces, I was disappointed. Made me second guess my understanding of the word "Illustration."

I looked the word up at M-W. Illustration: something that serves to illustrate : as a : an example or instance that helps make something clear b : a picture or diagram that helps make something clear or attractive.

The definition is kinda broad, but I wasn't far off. An illustration, in my opinion, particularly one for publication in a magazine, is a drawing of some kind. The end result can be rendered in paint, on the computer or any other media. It can be used to stand alone, or support a written story or article. Whatever the media is used, some ability to draw is fundamental to being an illustrator. You don't have to know how to draw well, though it helps. And those who can't draw well — myself included — develop a marketable style. But of the 15 "illustrations" submitted to me for this contest, only three submissions were illustrated.

Most of these kids, look like, downloaded low-res photos from the internet, altered them in Photoshop and applied various filters as special effects. And remember, the category was non-photo illustration. Others illustrated their stories with what I'd consider computer generated graphics — shapes, logos, distorted typography with drop shadows or embossed effects. Nothing wrong with illustrating a story with graphics, but, still, good graphics are born from successful drawings. And a trained eye knows the difference.

I was greatly disappointed by what I found in this group, and I'm hoping it isn't representative of what's happening to the field of illustration, industry wide. Most of the submissions I judged represented laziness. I could tell, looking at these "illustrations", that the artist in fact, was trying to avoid having to draw anything at all — especially people. They were looking for a quick out, a computerized special effect that might dazzle a magazine reader.

For the sake of encouraging these artist, I'm going to set aside the passion I've displayed here. I'll offer positive feedback on each illustration as well as honest constructive criticism. And I'm gonna emphasize the importance that they learn how to draw, if they want to become illustrators, since their college instructors obviously haven't.

Hopefully, my thoughts about illustration aren't as old fashioned as my thoughts about other things I've posted.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A pleasant visit, now the wedding

The wedding industry is a racket, I should know. I've been through the process of preparing for a wedding, twice. Now I'm preparing to marry off my daughter. This weekend, I purchased her wedding dress.

As much as possible, I want to help her have a nice, traditional wedding: formal gown; sit-down reception; multi-tiered cake; and held at a church, if I can cajole her in that direction. This all may clash with the plastic flip-flops she plans to wear, but, well — at least I'm trying for class.

The dress turned out to be a bargain, costing about twice as much as my wife's wedding dress, but about half as much as her original choice. And picking it out was relatively painless, at least for me, because I only had to accompany the ladies — my daughter, wife and mother — to one of many bridal shops they visited. I simply walked in, sat down; left to purchase a chocolate chip cookie from the bakery next door; returned, ate my cookie; nodded off, went to sleep. When I woke up, the choice had been made. All they needed was my credit card, and approval of the dress.

The daughter looked absolutely beautiful, but the best part of all, was that we all agreed upon the appropriateness of the dress, to the occasion — unlike the big fight we had before my daughter's prom. Then, the choice was backless, practically frontless and almost bottomless. We took the smart route: my mother-in-law made the prom dress, and there'd be no trashiness coming off of Ms. B's sewing machine.

Down side of the visit: My daughter brought with her a nasty little Arizona stomach virus (Sorry, Chris, Julie). She was sick for the first two days of her visit. I'll spare you the details. The next two days, her son was sick, followed by my mom, on Sunday. Today, K has it. That just leaves the wife and me, so I’m paranoid every time my stomach as much as growls. My immune system is a coward when it comes to fighting off viruses of any kind.

In other news: I know I’m not supposed to say negative things about others works, but sorry. I read that farting dog book last night and was thoroughly sickened. And the illustrations, scary.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Starving for alone time

I'm a severe introvert. I don't say that to imply there's a problem with introversion — there isn't. Were just different than extroverts. Among other things, we need time alone, everyday, by ourselves. Time alone allows us to recharge, ponder the big questions of life, create, clear our minds. Heck, it allows us to pick our noses without question, if we like. Without it, we get rather grouchy. I haven't had a minute alone in over a week. In fact, as I type this teensie-weensie, short little post — at 12:15 in the morning — the wife enters my studio and asks me a question. Twice.

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying my family visit. Allows me to reconnect, strengthen bonds, reinforce love.

But, I think I may need to go fishing tomorrow. Alone. Or it ain't gonna be very pretty around here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's a good story, after all

Tomorrow (Saturday), I meet with my critique group, and, up until a couple hours ago, I was really kind of ashamed of myself. I didn't have a story to share, and I didn't have a good excuse. Well, I take that back, I did have an excuse. I just returned from vacation on one coast, then, a week later, SCBWI nationals on the opposite coast. And I do have another issue that continually haunts me — time, not enough of it. Especially with out-of-town visitors, and my habit of cartooning and blogging (one of my blogs being a finalist in the BWA's).

But time was only a portion of my problems this week. My other problem was confidence. I wrote a story that I didn't feel up to par, as compared to other submitted manuscripts. One was well researched, well written, thought out. The other was just plain cute, brilliant. Mine was silly in comparison.

But, what I realized after revising my story, was that it wasn't so bad after all. It stood well on it's own. The problem wasn't my writing, it was comparing, which breaks the rules, and purpose of being in a critique group. Written art is similar to visual art, in that it is subjective, arguably, I'm sure. What one person considers to be masterful, someone else considers trash.

So, though I didn't have my story finished in time for others to read, I'm going to read it aloud, myself, at tomorrow's meeting. If they'll allow. And I'll use the feedback to present my story again at next month's meeting.

It's a good 2nd-written, first draft.

In other news: My freelance illustration business is going fantastic! Fantastic! FANTASTIC! I had to say that three times because that's the number of manuscripts I have to choose from. And, if I have my way, I'll accept all three.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Time with family, no work

This week, I have so many things on my plate, I haven't fully accomplished anything...except put in time at my full-time gig.

I did get in a fantastic workout. There really is no other way to start off a day than with 2 sets of brain-rushing deadlifts, followed by two sets of deep squats with two 55-pound dumbells on your shoulders — I just love it!

Following my workout, I took the family to the Austin Children's Museum. I've always thought the place was pretty cool, interactive science gizmo's and things. But the family was underwhelmed. We stayed for less than an hour, then left. Besides that, I think my overly rambunctious grandchild was scaring away the other children — and their mommies — with his ear-piercing screams and assaults on any child who wouldn't give up a toy that he wanted. I think we may have the next WWF superstar on our hands.

We finished the afternoon with lunch at Fudruckers.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Looking way back

I had been prepared to blog on another subject entirely, something more in line with the subject of this blog — publishing, illustrating, writing. But when I came home from work, my mom, who is visiting for the next two weeks, gives me a packet with some of my old stuff from back home in Des Moines, which included this photo. I'm so blown away, I haven't seen this photo in ages.

I must have been about 18 years old, maybe 19. My life was so very different back then, it's almost like looking at a ghost. Sorry to walk you down my personal memory lane, but here are some of my thoughts looking at this photo:

-- I was much too young to have a child. Much too young to raise a child. I didn't know that back then.

-- I had just been accepted into a commercial art program at a community college. Those days when my 20-year-old Nova actually started up and ran, I bundled my daughter up in a blanket, laid her on my lap, or on the seat next to me (boy have laws changed), and drove her to day care — which ever one I could afford to pay that month — then drove myself to school in Ankeny, Iowa, about 40 miles north of Des Moines. On days that my car didn't run, a friend's father, a man who liked and believed I had a bright future, drove me to school.

-- Ronald Reagan cut my grant for books and art supplies at the campus book store, when I went onto welfare for the two years I was in college. I remember thinking, "I can't eat books or T-squares."

-- I was in the midst of a custody battle with lawyers and judges and custody investigators. I won. My daughter's mother was still in high school.

-- I was so deeply in love with that baby girl, and the smell of spit up mixed with baby powder, but I absolutely hated walking through the mall pushing a stroller (it messed with my cool).

-- I missed "scooping the loop" on Friday nights with Ronnie, Michael and Kevin. I miss them to this day.

-- So many insecurities, fears, demons. Looking at this picture, I can see them clearly in my eyes. At the same time, I possessed confidence in my abilities, and I was optimistic about my future.

--What happened to my hairline? Sometime over the past 20 years, someone pulled my hairline two inches farther up from my eyebrows and pumped fat into my face.

--I can't believe the little girl in this picture is all grown up now, and will be returning home tomorrow with her own child.

Wow, how time flies.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I'm getting a maid

You think I'm not serious? Tomorrow, my mom arrives in town, from Iowa. On Wednesday, my daughter and grandson will be here, visiting from Phoenix. And our house was filthy. Between my full-time gig, and part-time business, I simply don't have time to clean a house. And, though "beautiful" and "charming" and "sweet" are all words that describe my wife, "domestic" ain't. So we need some help.

Saturday morning, after I made the son his breakfast, I hosed down all three bathrooms, powerwashed every floor that isn't carpeted and washed the walls and woodwork before taking a backhoe to the refrigerator.

Today hasn't gone any better. As a matter and a fact, I'm only taking a break long enough to blog, then it'll be me and that vacuum cleaner. Somehow, six years ago, I thought a 2,800 square foot house was something to be excited about.

I'm getting a maid. You think I'm not serious?

What I'm reading: A couple weeks ago, while visiting the Lincoln Memorial, I purchased the book, LINCOLN: A PHOTOBIOGRAPHY by Russell Freeman. I had no idea at the time that it was a 1988 winner of the Newbery medal, until I saw it again at SCBWI nationals.

I'm embarrassed to say that beyond being an American president, gracing a penny, freeing African American slaves, and wearing a tall hat, I know nothing about Lincoln. So, this really is a necessary read. And I'm enjoying it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Writing while sleep

Last night, I awoke from my sleep with the perfect first line for a picture book. I didn't feel like getting up to write it down, so I tried to go back to sleep. I couldn't.

Finally, I did get up and write it down. That must have satisfied something in my sub conscience, because I quickly fell back to sleep. This morning, I found the scribbled note. After reading it, I didn't find the words so monumental after all. Great ideas must be greater when you're half sleep. Still, I used the inspiration to write a complete first draft, and did it in little under two hours.

In an earlier post, I mentioned working smarter. For this manuscript, that will mean developing text along with pictures. I plan to create a final cover illustration, and sketch out a few inside spreads. Then I'll submit a dummy book to editors, as opposed to a written manuscript only. I should have done this years ago — duh! — this isn't a new idea.

I think my story would be considered a fractured folk tale. I've presented it a zillion times to children at schools. It's become so much a part of me, I felt compelled to retell it with my own voice, and a few added twists. I know folk tales don't fall under the category of a possible big book, in terms of sales, but my goal is to tell stories that I enjoy writing, and not concern myself with what might be a big seller. That's somebody else's job.

This is my favorite stage of the writing process. At this point I have a structure on which to build. I can add arms or wings, feathers or fur. Or simply leave it as it is. I'm past the point of having writer's block. And I did it at an all-time low of under 500 words. And to think, this time yesterday, I thought I wouldn't have anything to submit to my critique group next weekend. Take notice, I did say group — we have an additional person!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Back on track. Well, sort of

Something is in the air
I don't know what it is about this time of year, but there is definitely something in the air. Between August and December, requests for art shoot through the ceiling, and life adds a few extra hurdles. Anyway, just a few tidbits in the life of Devas T.:

Market guide
I purchased the 2007 Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market guide. This year illustrator, Roz Fulcher, wrote a feature entitled Blogging for Authors and Illustrators. I was quoted, along with Bartography, Cynsations, and others (though my URL was printed very wrong).

Frankfurt Book Fair
I'll be there! Well, I won't be but my art will. I will be designing a book cover for a trade publisher out of London. They will sort of test market the cover at the book fair. I really don't know much about the project, except that it will feature cars. This car thing has really taken off.

Family stuff
My mom, daughter and grandson will be visiting next week. My mom will be here for two weeks, and my daughter and grandson will be here during that time. This will be an interesting visit. My work schedule is packed, and my daughter has proclaimed that while visiting, she will be on vacation from being a mom, that she is turning those responsibilities over to grandpa. I don't know who she's talking about, 'cause I still ain't bought into this grandpa thing.

I'm truly reconsidering my situation at work. A neat opportunity has opened up. The problem is that my life is completely full. This job would present an exciting challenge, but in order for me to succeed at it, I'd really have to throw myself into it fully, teetering the balance of my already unbalanced life. Right now I'm juggling a freelance career, a full-time job, my marriage, children, church and so on. A position like this would be like stuffing an elephant in the back seat of my pint-sized Toyota, then trying to drive down I-35, without killing someone. Hmm.

***Edit to original post***
The Frankfurt deal is no longer on the table. Things happen so fast, I learned as soon as I posted this blog. This is probably a good thing, you'd agree if you saw the list of projects I have between now and the festival.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Another highlight from SCBWI

As the result of a misunderstanding, I returned home from SCBWI with a piece of art from a very cool, bow tie wearing author/illustrator, Scott Franson. While in route to the airport on a Super Shuttle, we swapped contact information, then he unwrapped a package. He opened it up, and handed me this beautiful piece of art, saying, "I'd like to show you a piece of my art." I misunderstood, thinking he said, "I'd like to give you a piece of my art." Don't ask me why my ears heard something entirely different than what he said, but following a very embarrassing exchange he, in fact, offered to give it to me. "Really, I want you to have it. Why not?" he said. So, I am the owner of a Scott E. Franson original! This exquisite, wordless picture book, Un Brella, is rendered entirely in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and will release with Roaring Brook Press in the spring of 2007. Kinda reminds me of my My Peepz, but with much, much more detail.

And speaking of wordless picture books, at one of the sessions I attended, an author posed a very good question: If an author has an idea for a wordless picture book, but isn't an artist, how would she/he go about submitting it to an editor? No one had an answer.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The picture book is back! And so am I

Me with most of the Gregory K. possee

I’m back from the 35th Annual SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles, and it was a blast. I've consumed way too much information to attempt a recap, and to be honest, after 17 one-hour keynotes, 7 break out sessions, and an array of other activities, I need a break from kids book talk, for a couple of days. I had hoped to return energized, however what I’m feeling is challenged. Working hard is not enough, I will need to work even harder, and smarter. But, more on that later.

The most exciting news: The picture book is back! I heard those words several times over the course of four days, by various speakers. "Editors are calling me looking for picture books," said agent, Jodi Reamer of Writer's House. That's good news for authors and illustrators of picture books but, on the same note, publishers are now extra careful about which titles they put their money behind, looking closer for what they see as the big book. For some houses, particularly Harper Collins, I'd say, that’s good for celebrities and big name authors and illustrators, but for the first time author, it’s gonna be harder to get your foot in the door.

Multicultural picture books always have been, and continue to present a challenge for publishers. Aside from big award winners, book stores give these books very limited shelf life. These books may get center attention on the day they publish, but are soon set aside, out of the mainstream. Because of this, some publishers, such as Lee and Low Books, depend more so on school libraries, than book stores, to get their books into the hands of children.

Children’s books specifically marketed for African Americans, Asians, Latinos, etc. are often "put in a box and treated different," said Michael Stearns of Harper Collins. These books will reach the market at a slower pace, and won’t get the same marketing attention as others. Alvina Ling, brought an especially positive perspective to the table. She talked about Little Brown’s diverse editorial staff, and how she, as a person of color is especially passionate about bringing multicultural picture books to market. All agreed, it will be a great day when multicultural books are treated simply as a children's book, and not lumped into a sub category by themselves. Another exciting tidbit that was echoed many times, is that authors who can also illustrate their own manuscripts have an advantage, and in many cases, these days, are preferred. Jody Reamer, Alvina Ling and illustrator/author Nina Laden, and others all made those statements.

Also, the YA novel appears to be stronger than ever, the middle grade chapter (novel?) is even hotter than ever, but chick-lit has over saturated the market. Overall, the outlook is good. So, as author, Jane Yolen summed up her keynote: Write the damned book!

Here are my personal highlights:

Meeting Gregory "GottaBook" Pincus, the Disco Mermaids, and the rest of his posse!

Jacqueline Woodson's keynote address. I wish more African American's took interest in this field, brown faces were few and far between. So it did my heart good when the conference kicked off with a speaker who looked like me. She read from several of her books, including Show Way.

At her session, "Writing Multicultural Books," editor, Louise May, pointed me out as this year’s New Voices Honor winner. That was kinda cool.

I was totally blown away by Jarrett Krosoczka's keynote, as was everyone. I cannot even do it justice with words, so I won't try. With the exception of the "Special 35th Anniversary Keynote" given by Jane Yolen, Jarret was the only person to receive a standing ovation, and for good reason. At one point, he showed a short movie that he produced. I don’t know if he realized, but it brought out emotions in many people. Several people I talked to afterward mentioned tearing up. Though the movie was Jarrett’s experience, it was a movie about each individual in the audience. Under the uproarious humor, it was the story about a hardworking author/illustrator trying to reach a goal: to get a book published in a competitive market. And it ended with his doing the "happy dance with a group of unsuspecting park partons" If you have a book published, you know what the "happy dance" is all about.

At The Jade Jubilee, I was a wallflower, and satisfied to be one. This was not a stuffy, pretentious stand-around-and-eat-meatballs-on-the-end-of-a-toothpick-while-trying-to-look-important kind of dance. No. This was a get up off your butt and shake your booty (and everything else attached) kind of dance, complete with a hip-hop DJ MC, and music to boot! Everyone dressed in Jade, or as Lin Oliver put it, came to the party jaded. The dance floor bounced, and onlookers gawked from the hotel balcony above. I even heard about several people trying to crash the party, it looking so fun. In the elevator the next day, someone asked me if I was with the party group, and what it was all about. "Children’s book authors and illustrators," I told them, to their surprise. And to anyone wondering about the black guy at the party, with the double-pierced tongue, green dress looking thing, and jade painted bald head. That WAS NOT Don Tate, thank you.

Meeting Suzanne Cruise, my licensing agent for over 10 years. This was our first face to face meeting. She greeted me with a huge hug, and...well, her hair completely filled my mouth. After pulling it from between my teeth, we agreed to meet at the bar. But no booze for me, with at least two more keynotes that day, it would have put me to sleep.

SCBWIdol turned out to be much fun. Contestants competed by performing a three-minute school visit presentation. On Sunday, the top six winners competed on stage. The winner, whose name escapes me, juggled rings, demonstrated giro scopes, and rode a unicycle across the stage.

Lastly, the host for the conference, Lin Oliver, was a hoot! She is the perfect host for an event like this, and kept us in stitches throughout the entire conference, with her fierce quick wit.

It was a magical weekend. In addition to the impressive faculty, there were many unexpected luminaries strolling around the halls: Robert Sabuda, Matthew Reinhart, David Diaz, and many others.

Off the wall observation: I was surprised by the number of kid-lit celebrities who just kinda hung out at the bar. All. The. Time. Nothing wrong with that, but is this an SCBWI minging tactic, or has the industry truly driven us to drink?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Keep on pushing

Well, I'm off to the national SCBWI conference. My flight arrives in Los Angeles late this evening. Once I get there, I'll probably change, then find the gym and get in a hard workout. I haven't touched a weight, or ran in almost two weeks, and my energy level is running on empty.

I don't know if I'll be able to blog while there. I don't have one of those wireless internet thing-a-ma-gigs, so unless the hotel has free internet, I will be blog free for the next four days. I should survive.

There are many things I'm hoping to get out of this conference, but mainly I'm looking to be energized. As of late, I've been questioning if the time I've spent writing would have been better spent on the illustration side. As I sat in my car today, at a stop light, I looked up at the clouds. I studied the colors, how the sun created warm highlights, and cool shadows. I analyzed the hues, and considered what mixture of paint would create a perfect blue sky. I used to do that all the time, visually analyze my surroundings. I used to even dream about solving visual problems, then apply my solution to a piece of art. But, now having spent so much time writing, I find myself thinking about words when sitting at a stoplight, when I wake up at night. And earlier this week, as I painted clouds, it came awkward.

I'm hoping upon my return, the time I've invested as a writer will hold new promise. I've always wanted to attend an SCBWI conference, but finances always dictated otherwise. At least, that was my excuse. Another reason, maybe, is that I've never felt a NEED to go, it's always been more of a want. I have no problem satisfying needs. But getting illustration illustration work has always come easy for me, I've never really had to work at it, it's always been there. Never felt a need to pay a lot of money and attend a conference in order to find work. It's always found me. But as a writer, I feel like I'm flailing. Feels like I'm pushing a huge rock, and it ain't going nowhere. So, now, for the sake of staying the course, I NEED to go to a national conference. Not that going will magically change everything, but if I leave excited, inspired, that'll be the boost I need to keep on pushing.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Brighter lights on the horizon?

There were some very interesting developments concerning my full-time gig. I won't be so forward as to suggest anything in particular, or to announce anything definite. But I feel confident in saying, there is a slight possibility I could find myself in a new and challenging position, soon, if I haven't messed things up.

Today, at an office meeting, a new position was announced. As I listened, I found myself getting excited at the thought of applying for such a job. I felt totally confident in my ability to perform the duties, with additional training. But training wasn't mentioned. In addition, the way in which the job was announced, the words used, led me to believe they would be hiring someone outside the company with a specialized skill set. I dismissed it, not even considering my own qualifications.

Later, when one of the bosses came over and questioned me about the comments made at the meeting, my response fell in the range of indifferent to uninterested, something like, "Yea, that's exciting news for someone, let me know when you fill the position. I'd like to work closely with the person." I had no idea they were eyeballing me for the job until I read an email sent to me while I was on vacation; I had missed it. I have all the skills — well, all except one thing — necessary to do this exciting new job, and do it well. This could be very cool. So cool, it would squelch my my desire to go freelance full-time. But, I could kick myself for the response I gave to one of the bosses.