Kid Lit Dish

Kim's Magical Journey Into the World of Children's Picture Books

FINALLY… On Loosening Up

Well, here it is “tomorrow” and I’ve actually got another post!  Wow, two days in a row after two weeks of nada… from the sublime to the ridiculous.  (THAT one’s for my hubby, who can’t stand that phrase!) 😉

Those who know me know I love tennis.  Well, I may not be AS passionate about it as I used to be, but I do think it’s a great sport and when I’m feeling “on,” I love to play.

And those who love this game can always come up with comparisons of how tennis is a lot like life.  (Probably a lot of sports can say that, but tennis is one of those unique games in that it ultimately IS about you and you alone.  Unless you’re playing doubles, you’re really all alone out there… a team of one.)  There are a myriad of analogies out there.  Just Google “Tennis and Life” and see for yourself.

And there are other little nuances of the game that can be analogous to the real world, such as the fact that you can be the best in the world, but if you lack confidence in your abilities, you probably won’t be successful.  And one subtle change in your thinking out there on the court can shift momentum from your side to the other, or vice versa.  It’s truly 80% mental.  Again,  just like life.  Believe in yourself.  Set goals.  Work hard.  Success!

But it drills down from there.  And that gets me (finally!) to my point for today and that is that when you’re nervous playing a real match, you’re going to play what the pros call “tight”– meaning your forearm (your whole body, really) will be stiff.  If your arm is tense and not loose, it’ll react against the ball in a completely different (read: not good) way.  It’s an almost guaranteed error or fault most of the time when you’re hitting.  And that’s how matches are lost.

I was thinking about this today when I was thinking about writing and drawing.  I know when I started this whole process, I wanted to be so precise with everything.  So I wouldn’t even write down one word until I had the entire story outlined.  And I wouldn’t draw a picture without making sure my lines were smooth and straight.  But that was doing nothing to improve either my writing OR my drawing.

So now instead of these precision drawings (that invariably all ended up cartoon-like), I’m drawing nothing but these rough sketches and really trying to focus on GESTURE.  And two weeks ago, I wrote a pure-prose PB manuscript that I’m really happy with… in one day.  (“Precision”-me wouldn’t have been able to do that!)  Granted, this past Saturday was spent in a first round of revisions for that sucker (I had to get away from it for two weeks… to really see it for what it is) but I do believe there may be something there.

So I leave you with this: No matter what you’re doing– if it’s a picture book, an illustration, a poem… whatever– don’t THINK about it so much. Loosen up a little.  Leave all your inhibitions in the ethers and just DO what flows from your fingers and brain.  See what comes out of that kind of freedom.  I’ll bet you anything some really good stuff awaits.

Enjoy the day, everyone!

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Loosening Up

Big week as far as “creating” goes… I’ve been writing and editing up a storm, thanks to the incredibly helpful and positive feedback I’ve received from the kid lit pro I recently hired to critique two of my manuscripts.  ALSO, I’ve had this insatiable need to draw this week…  and I’ve been drawing things I don’t usually, such as St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.  Yes, that’s right– the one with all the colorful “onion tops.”  (I’ll post it once I’m done with it– it started in my art class yesterday and I’ll finish it up in watercolor next week.)  So far, so good… but I am sure that my “watercoloring” (which has never been my strength) will ruin it.

Something about sketching that beautiful building, though, really flexed the old drawing muscles because I spent the better part of last night rough sketching characters in various poses– from old men to children to… hippos?  Oh yeah, and chickens.  (Scratch the chicken to the left, though– I’m not too happy with her.)

And this week will end in such a fantastic way– it’s the Southern Breeze children’s writer and illustrator conference in Birmingham!  I head out in just a few minutes and get back Saturday night.  My new illustrator friend, Shanda (who is an incredibly talented illustrator, by the way) is riding with me.  It’s going to be amazing… I just know it.  I feel like all cylinders are firing flawlessly right now…

I may miss Perfect Picture Book Friday, though… after a 3-hour drive and an evening networking event tonight, I don’t think I’ll have time to pull it together!

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Design Of The Picture Book

Welcome to Design of the Picture Book! I'm Carter Higgins, and I'm a writer and librarian for kids. I spent a spectacular stint as the Children's Book Editor at <a href="http://www.designmom.com/">Design Mom</a> which I loved! You can find my column <a href="http://www.designmom.com/category/childrens-lit/">here</a>.<br /> I'm a K-6 librarian, a former-ish graphic designer, an SCBWI member, and a huge fan of words and pictures.<br /> Represented by <a href="http://www.rpcontent.com/">Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC</a>.

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