Monday, August 27, 2012

New Mini-Book Spread, Waiting For Your Ship to Come In

Here's another spread from my mini book:

So the mini book is done, and now all I have left is the hard work of figuring out how to hand bind the thing. My friend Stef has been generous enough to teach me, so soon I hope to be gluing and sewing up some mini-books!

Waiting For Your Ship to Come In

At the risk of making a horrible pun, I wanted to discuss what is often the painful waiting process involved in submission, and developing your craft. I used to have an aunt and uncle who were always discussing what they would do when their "ship came in" meaning: what they would do when they made a lot of money. In this way of thinking, the ship either comes, or it doesn't come. The longer you wait for the ship, the less likely it feels that it will ever come, and what a disappointment when it doesn't. My aunt and uncle were deeply unhappy people. Even when they were making an income that most middle class people would envy, they were still waiting for that ship, and the ship never came.

So you've finished a book. Or a book dummy. And you've submitted it, and resubmitted it, and you've gotten rejection after rejection. Maybe you've gotten feedback from your peers--or even publishers--that it's a pretty good book. Maybe you're not entirely sure. But you're waiting. Here's how not to wait: write another book.

If you want to be an author, an author whose profession is writing, or writing and illustrating books, writing needs to be your function. Yes, write every day. Everyone always tells you to write every day. That's important. But its also important to start, and complete. Finish things. In the picture book world where book submissions involve unfinished book dummies, the whole act of making a dummy involves this waiting process. You can't complete it until its accepted.

Because of all this waiting, I found it very satisfying to make a book, even a small one, on my own terms. It's a small 4x8 wordless, 17 page book completed from start to finish by me. Its not for the purpose of sale, but that doesn't mean it won't help me sell other books some day. It's meant as a self-promotional tool, and because I just need to stop waiting and start making books.

 If like me, you want making books to be your career, its important to make books for the pleasure of it to keep you grounded in why you're doing it in the first place. Allow yourself the pleasure and satisfaction of holding that book that you made in your hands, even if it doesn't say "Simon and Schuster."It doesn't hurt to self-publish if just to have the satisfaction of saying, hey, this is mine. So often self-publishing is discouraged because it's considered giving up on "legitimate" publication. But it's hard to be an author when everything is in a drawer.

Ultimately, you have to get pleasure out of the work. There needs to always be pleasure in the work. If it's  nothing but a chore (and some parts of it will always feel like a chore, it is and will always be work), if you can't enjoy the small act of writing and drawing, you're going to be waiting for that ship.

I think ambition is great. Ambition is important. it's a fantastic motivator. My own ambitions are huge. But if the pleasure is delayed until the ambition is fulfilled by some undetermined outside agency, you're cheating yourself out of the day-to-day pleasure of the work. Being a writer and and illustrator requires you to spend a lot of time by yourself, and if you don't enjoy your own company, if you don't get some small satisfaction in that room where you spend so much time alone working, and working hard, whether or not your ship comes in, your life is going to suck. 

No comments:

Post a Comment