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Creativity is Freaking Scary!

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

I’m coming down the home stretch on getting my children’s book on creativity, "Giselle and the Little Idea", formatted.

Believe me when I say, this has been a journey. Mostly a good journey. There haven’t been any giant spiders or evil orcs, except in my day and nighttime dreams in my own freaky head.

Worry, worry, worry.

I worried about finding an illustrator. I didn’t know any illustrators, and I'd heard all kinds of horror stories about cost and timelines. I stumbled on a blog that suggested putting a request for an illustrator on Upwork, and so I did that. Here it is:

I am a first time author who has written a book called "Giselle and the Little Idea". It's about how ideas search for collaborators, and how those collaborators respond. The little idea in the story looks for various partners (adults, a cat, and children) to bring itself to life, and finally finds a little girl, Giselle, who is willing to make something with it. The book is 25 pages long, not including the cover art. I would like the idea to change somewhat from panel to panel, as it's evolving into something new, and the thing they're creating also needs to evolve. I would also like it to have a multicultural feel to it. I have attached a .pdf of a mockup I did, to give some inkling of what I'm after. I would like the book to come out in the first half of 2023.

The "mockup' I referred to was something my husband Larry (not an illustrator, but a fine art photographer) put together. Here is one of his "illustrations" of the Little Idea:

Pretty cute, right? And how brave did he need to be to help me out like this, not being an artist and all?

I was inundated with offers. It took me several days to wade through them. There were the usual light bulb and thought cloud pitches, which I didn’t want. (In fact, when you Google images for idea/creativity, thought clouds and light bulbs are what appear.) One person stood out, a young woman from Bulgaria. She seemed to understand the subtle humor I was going for, and the fact that the idea would morph from frame to frame.

We agreed to make a contract and get going, which sort of mirrored how the idea and Giselle work together. She was on time, she was inventive, she was open to ideas, yet sensitive to the story line, and she took suggestions well. I hit illustrator gold! This is her representation of Giselle meeting the idea for the first time:

The box is her concept, and the character of the idea appears variously as a paper airplane, a melting ice cream cone, candy pieces, etc., also her suggestions. She manages to make it so it is recognizable, even though it is changing, creating and growing.

I started putting things in place in Photoshop (luckily, Larry knows this program like he knows lenses, that is to say, profoundly) and began my freak outs all over again:

Nothing fits! Nothing looks good! How could I get the text to flow around the beautiful illustrations? How could I jam everything into twenty-some pages? This font doesn’t work at all!

The book grew to thirty-two pages.

How do these creative people do this day after day, I wondered? There’s so much uncertainty, so much tightrope walking…

An acquaintance of mind on Facebook began to post videos of himself composing his violin concerto. I saw none of the angst I was experiencing, none of the fear. He was full of wonder as he coaxed amazing sounds out of his instrument. He and the violin seemed to have formed some kind of gentle pact, and they were composing together. That was where I wanted to go, to let go of my fear, to enter into a fantastical place where anything could be tried and shaped. I needed to plant my seeds, allow them to grow, and rest assured that it would all turn out.

I know I have a lot to learn about being in this space, but it is a space I really want to be in. Keeping the fear demons at bay will take some pretty astute self-awareness. Anne Lamott, in her wonderful book, “Bird by Bird”, admits to having had some of the same emotions I’m experiencing. The title refers to a paper on bird species her little brother was supposed to write as a school assignment, and he waited until the thirteenth hour to complete it. Terrified, when he asked his father how he would get it done, his father’s wise advice was, “bird by bird”.

Life doesn’t prepare us for creativity. Our mistakes and blunders and faults are pointed out at a very early age, stifling the little budding creator in all of us. We are creatures who want to belong, not pointed at and laughed out of the room. Creativity takes tremendous courage and a willingness to be looked at, thought of, as different. I'm just beginning to learn those ropes.

Steady on, I guess that’s where I’m headed. Back to work (play)!

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1 Comment

Fantastic blog Pamela! I am so glad you found a wonderful illustrator who truly understands your vision and process. I can't wait to see the finished book!

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