Monday, 15 September 2008

Writing Children's Stories


Yes, writing stories is back on the agenda!

Since the publication of When You're Not Looking!, I have submitted several more stories, but not had any others taken up. I have around 30 published books now as an illustrator, but only that one as an author too.

Author/Illustrator friends have said it might be because I submit them as texts only, without visualising them. But the illustration bit takes a long time, particularly as I don't like to work on thumbnail sketches, much preferring big drawings. I've never been able to dedicate sufficient time to it until now.

I'd really like to get some more stories out there. I'm sure my ideas will work: I can see them in my head and they're really funny, honest!

It would really help my status in the market too, as author/illustrators definitely have a higher profile, and no amount of shameless self-publicity is going to change that!
So why am I not beavering away right now? Well, I have been working pretty hard on it today. I went into the local children's library, so I could first read lots of good picture books and get in the mood. I took a new sketch book, and sat on one of those tiny plastic chairs, at a little table, for nearly 4 hours. I read for a bit, then sketched and wrote for a bit, then, when I started to grind to a halt, read some more.

It seemed an ok system, so I might try it again. Not tomorrow though: we've got a man coming to oil the new wooden floor in the hall. So lots of furniture moving to do tonight. Oh joy...

6 comments:

Damian Harvey said...

A very interesting post, though personally I think that illustrator’s should not be allowed to illustrate their own stories – it’s just rude. Alright, perhaps I’m being a little jealous, but that’s only because my artwork is complete PANTS.

You’re right - author/illustrators do often seem to have higher profiles – but not always. There’s quite a few illustrators that maintain high profiles because of their distinct styles… Korky Paul et al. And a big display of your book covers is recognizable as a display of your work. My book covers are only recognisable as mine if you look close enough to see my name. I’m not complaining here – I think there’s advantages and disadvantages on both sides.

I have the same frustrations as you when writing picture book texts as I feel it’s hard for publishers to see just how fantastic they could be without having the artwork there in front of them. There are some fantastic author/illustrator books out there but there are quite a few where you know that the text alone would not have been given a second glance without the artwork… It can be a frustrating business can’t it?

Lynne Chapman said...

Mmm, that's very true about the visual impact factor. Did you notice, Gullane's new catalogue is rejigged so it maximises that too, grouping books largely by illustrator?

You're right about Korky Paul too, but it's pretty rare. Struggling to think of another of similar maginitude...

What do you do with texts you really believe in that do the rounds but get nowhere? Do you bring them out again a few years later, keep rewriting them, or bin them?

Damian Harvey said...

Yes, I did notice that about the Gullane catalogue. It works well I think. Too be honest I didn't come up with much more than Korky in picturebooks - the other illustrators I thought of are mainly linked to one specific author... like Axel Scheffler so I suppose my argument falls to the floor right there.

I keep everything, sometimes reworking the idea for another format - education readers etc. There's a couple in need of rewriting that I should get on to. Other things I'll probably end up sitting on and bringing out later I suppose. i don't think than anything is ever wasted though... I'm sure it's all got a place somewhere.

Lynne Chapman said...

It's true that Axel is known, but only for his work with Julia Donaldson and, once again, she totally overshadows him. Everyone knows her, but I'm not sure that, out of the biz, people know Axel's name.

Doesn't help that he's so shy, but still...

weechuff said...

I wonder what the librarian thought of this strange person sitting at a childs table, on a childs chair, sketching? Mind you Lynne, you are very petite so perhaps they didn't notice.....

Lynne Chapman said...

Ha ha ha... like a little gnome! All I needed was a fishing line.