I thought some might be interested in this process…
I first thought of the idea for My Travelin’ Eye one day while looking at my baby picture taken on the day I was born. My right eye was gazing straight at the camera, and my left eye was looking off to the right. What was I looking at? I’ve heard that question so many times throughout my life. It has a mind of its own, I say.
I remember what it was like being an awkward kid with glasses and a patch and the weekly eye-therapy in hopes of fixing my eye. (Note: not all kids feel awkward with glasses and a patch, but I did.) A few years ago, I began to think how I could write or paint about my eye so others might understand. (Yes, even as an adult, my eye wanders, but I’ve come to appreciate the wonder it sees.) At first, I wrote several different versions of my story, but none were right so I put it away for a year. After going on an 8-day creative writing/backpacker’s retreat and feeling renewed, I visited my sister and new baby nephew. While my sister slept, I sat on the floor holding Jake with one arm and writing with my other. That night, I wrote a whole new version of my story which is My Travelin’ Eye. I guess you could say I wrote it in one night, but that one night came after a year of incubation time.
A children’s book author/illustrator once advised me to submit my stories with a dummy of the book (vs. finished illustrations). These are some of the spreads from my book dummy. They are very rough black & white pencil drawings. I wanted a publisher to be able to see my vision even though I knew it would develop more. I also had fun playing with the text layout to show how I’d want it to interact with the illustrations. This process really helped me edit my story. I read it out loud to kids, too, which helped me even more to work out how I wanted it to be read. And, it helped me find my publisher!
Recently, I followed the same process for my next book, which again, helped me to ‘see and hear’ it. Feel free to ask any questions about the process of writing/illustrating children’s books. I’ll share whatever I can, based on my experiences.