Wednesday, June 22, 2016

When Writing Stumbles Lead Easily To Tequila

Raw inked illustration of Ollie

 I imagined my career as a prolific novelist spinning engaging tales of mystery and suspense.  Maybe with a little humor thrown in.  Even as a child when other boys were dreaming about being sports stars I was dreaming of the writer's life, whatever that was.  I think it had something to do with being your own boss, driving a Corvette and carrying a snifter of brandy with you wherever you went.  And wearing a cravat.  

Well,  instead of becoming the novelist in the vein of Kerouac meets Hemingway meets oh, all the great detective writers, I floated into short pieces and picture books about a five legged spider of mischief and mayhem.  Eh, beats a lot of other things I could do.  

I'm neck deep in words and images for Ollie's new adventure and I've hit one of those walls.  You see, with picture books you need a tight word count of something under 1000 words and 28 images for a standard 32 page picture book.  The reason has to do with how the physical book is constructed and the fact I'm not a bored celebrity who decided to try their hand at writing a picture book.  Those in that group get special attention and can write whatever word length they want with no restriction on images.  Because celebrity sells despite content.    

In the draft stages I often have somewhere around 3000 scene ideas I have to pare down to 30 and edit down to 28.  It takes lots of time, patience, coffee, effort and on Fridays, tequila.  The text is done and clocks in at around 900 words.  When I say "done"  I mean I made a decision to stop editing.  In the creative world, a job is never done.  You just put the pen down and walk away.  For now, I'm (mostly) happy with the story.  

On to the illustrations.  Armed with coffee and enough mac n cheese to kill an elephant,  I did all the drawings and they numbered in the low 30s.  I had some cutting  to do.  I deleted a few weak scenes and combined a few others and went about inking.  I put them in my little portfolio and set them aside.  

NOTE: When an author, artist, musician, etc finishes a work they  put it aside to marinate (or ferment) while they clear their head of it.  Sometimes it's a week, sometimes months.  When they return to complete the work they have a fresh perspective.  When I returned to my drawings a short time later, I discovered, like a farsighted barber I did a little too much cutting.  I was two illustrations short.  

More coffee.  

The problem with making two random illustrations is the pace and flow will be thrown off.  The images are structured to draw the eye left to right and onto the next page.  Adding a page will ruin the flow.  I either have to add two to the end, the very beginning or two in the middle somewhere.  Now that may throw off the story and rewrites will follow.  A puzzle within a mystery wrapped in a headache.  

I have some thinking to do.  If anyone needs me, I'll be at the beach. 

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