Writers write… that little phrase echoes in my mind, heard it many times before, and then I think it… I think it because I got away from writing, not that I wanted to get away from it… it just happened. I realized I had become so distracted by many other outside influences — people that were crashing into my life, taking up my time…
Writing has structure and words that create the home of the story. Writing is the same as fixing up a house into a home to have the ultimate charm of a comfortable living space. Writing for story has structure, the arch, the story, the problem, the solution and in writing children’s stories there is usually pictures that carry the charm and also turn the pages of the book… Writing comes naturally for me most times. I have to admit though, I hadn’t realized how long I had been away from writing even just a little snip-it or illustrating a little doodle and watercoloring it in to something fun… and how I miss those little moments that I did that. Those moments are snaps of time but they can bring me back to the moment I created them. My illustrations bring me much joy and to the children that see them, they too laugh and enjoy them. I have inspired children to make their own stories and books and illustrate them too.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something zip across the room and behind an old bureau that belonged to my parents. Seconds later, the gears in my head move ever so slowly in the morning, before my first cup of coffee, then I wondered, “What was that?” Before I could get out of my chair I realized I had a visitor… Penelope scurried along my desk and sat herself down right in front of my computer screen! She looked somewhat the same, she was still a medium size brown mouse, with an oval face, with large button-blue eyes, and she still had a set of long whiskers, however, these now were completely white. Bits of white tufts encircled and grew out of her ears, but she was just as spry as I remembered her from our old home in San Francisco. It wasn’t so long ago that we were all living in that old home on Filbert Street, all of us growing up there together. I think it is rather interesting that Penelope has turned up after much time has gone by! Her timing is impeccable, because I am just launching her story in a book called, “Penelope – The Tea Mouse” … Orders may be placed through Ingram, or through your local bookstore.
This book follows two others, Elephoot and Elephoot Returns…
Reading, writing and illustrating… The daily do-list… It seems that all this comes naturally on the days and nights when I can pound out word after word and not worry which way it looks on paper or in the computer nowadays. I look back on the dry spells and wonder what I thought about then, or what was I doing? Was I gathering fodder or looking through scraps of paper reminding me of things to write about? Was I simply on a museum day with a friend, on an outing, driving somewhere to do an errand and/or taking a moment to relax? We all have these days or nights. It is what we do with the time that we take when we aren’t crafting our crafts. I used to write streams of stories and they came one after the other. Then I turned my brain over to illustrating them, and those little pictures turn up when they do. If I am not satisfied with the image, I don’t turn them away or throw them out- I hang on to them, because they can be used at another time. It can be an image for a card, or a baby’s room wall in a frame and so forth. Then I started the book, now that is finished, so I started the publishing side and then I started to sell them. Each day has flown into the next one. Each idea developed another whole slew of ideas and they keep on coming… Trouble is finding the time to develop each one of those ideas. From the first book came the next book in the series. I re-wrote the second book to create the pathway for other stories… The ideas just keep occurring to me. I thought perhaps the characters live in my head, and now they want out, but in reality once a person starts something, then ideas can be grown out of what is started. Now people are asking for more books in the series. Everything has a time and a place, but who knew that these bits of imagination could start to rule my life. It has been fun for me to see the actual book, and also to hear someone giggle when they read the book or look at the illustrations. The simple basics we learned as children become the pillars of the daily do-list… Repetition, thoughts, silly ideas, can work themselves into your craft. All one has to do is start, and then it just unravels as you go… one word, one link, one thought, soon a strand or a line, then a paragraph, then a chapter, then a book… !
It seems we are all on a wagon wheel during our lifetimes. We strive to get to the center of the wheel where we can be our own boss, control what we can, and grow in any direction, with a purpose. Some days we see growth and other days it may seem like we are standing still. Sometimes we can spin out of control. Just pulling back and reflecting on where we have been and where we are going can be enlightening. I like to think of the spinning wheel as a place where we gather and store our threads or thoughts.
My spinning wheel from 2010 through 2013 was very productive in a new direction. I re-worked a story that I had written and illustrated a long time ago. It was so long ago that the paper had yellowed and the illustrations had to be redone, if I were to do anything with the story. I had read this story to children over the years, and eventually to my own child while she was growing up. As I started to redraw and paint the illustrations, I imagined a new story dimension and started recreating the story and illustrations to suit the new story. This wagon wheel kept spinning and spinning and I discovered that my illustrations grew more delightful and more whimsical as I recreated the rudimentary illustrations that I had begun in 1973.
In the middle of 2013 I went to another children’s book symposium and realized from the advice given to me there that my story pictures could stand on their own. (I didn’t have to explain the story with text). So I cut down the words of the story and soon my picture book spun itself into a picture book category. Out of that reality grew a thought to self-publish and test the market with it. The spinning wheel of ideas has never let me down because every day I devote some time to the story, by getting out there and meeting people who want to know about me, and how I came to writing it and how can they obtain a copy of Elephoot….. http://www.holdenswhimsicals.com
If you have a dream, just keep on creating your idea and don’t ever stop, keep working on your dream, and then take the reach that your spinning wheel leads you. One idea leads to another and once you climb aboard and let your spinning wheel take you where it wants to go, you will eventually see your creation come to life. My spinning thoughts are: keep on – keep on turning your wheel.
Just as the fish in my header picture, chasing one after the other, with a turtle sighing on the bottom of the pond, I wonder about many things when I can’t seem to spin out a story. How does writing happen? Do other people just get a quick idea and go with the flow? Do the words come one by one or do they fill in the blanks as the thoughts come to them? Sometimes I have it all worked out in my brain and things just fall down on the page like magic. Other times like now I am wondering how do I get there? Why are some thoughts and stories already worked out and they just come to me in a series of thoughts. I guess that tonight isn’t the night to figure that out. I am writing and illustrating again and perhaps that is all that matters.
I have been writing and illustrating a children’s story for the past two years. This has been quite a journey and very rewarding for me too. Writing uses one side of my head and maybe the illustrations come from the other side. Some days are dry and on other days the words and illustrations just flow perfectly. At times I find that I will draw or paint way into the night when the phone doesn’t ring and at other times the daylight will be the right light to add the watercolors to the pages. I wish I could control both of these entities and have perfect results each time I attempt something.
If you are interested in viewing or purchasing my whimsical illustrations, please visit:
About six weeks ago I had to decide who I wanted to give my time to. Every day there were commitments and deadlines and people wanted my attention for all kinds of things. Then I imposed a self-appointed time for me and only me to do what I want to do. I have labeled this time as My Time. I don’t have to explain to anyone anymore that I need my time too. It was concept that I had a hard time doing, parceling out time for myself. I had to practice saying “No” and also I had to learn that I don’t have to give any explanations to anyone. Mostly now I say I am working on my book, but it could be my blog, or my illustrations, but the end result is that I have had more time for myself and more time for developing my stories and art. And, I feel so much better!
We all need time away and if we can’t go on a vacation then taking one’s time down their own rabbit hole to a space far away from those who impose on us is the next best solution. I come up for air and I go on walks and I hop along knowing that I am enjoying some free time away from the crowd!
To our eyes there isn’t much room inside the eye of a needle. I am sure if we were a mere speck, the space between the eye of a needle would seem large enough or perhaps, on the other hand, it wouldn’t seem large at all depending on one’s perspective. In this era we are preoccupied with the size of our spaces, our cubicles, our daily space. While living in this economy we have had to pull back and live in less space, and some people have had to pull up stakes and move out altogether. Could this economic disaster that we have been experiencing have been prevented if better rules had been set by our financial institutions worldwide? This is a question that has been raised often and every take on it that I read in magazines, I realize that no one knows what will happen next. There are predictions and trends that are written about, and there are vast opinions about how our markets will turn around. I am not an economist, I am like the rest of the world of people who have ever had a dream and invested bits and pieces into companies through the stock market with the hopes of having a retirement of safely invested monies. One fear is that nothing is safe, yet we continue trying to believe that our markets will strengthen as more money is poured through the eye of needle into various fund manager’s fingertips within the confines of office space of large investment companies. I’d like to believe that we are on the rising end of this economic wave and that new rules will replace the ones that were easy to get around. Perhaps someone will create an algorithm program to track the market and expose the threads that will likely cause rifts within the eye of the economic needle.