It’s official! Duck for a Day launched yesterday, 1 May. Since I’m in Japan, which makes it difficult to serve hors d’oeuvres and sign books in Australia, it launched not so much with a quack as with a whimper, but nonetheless it should be waddling its way to libraries and bookstores near you very shortly.
Today, I’m taking a leaf out of Julia Lawrinson’s blog, which took its own leaf from Anita Heiss (for such is the way of the madly intertextual interwebs), to talk about things I’ve been grateful for lately.
It has been a tricky couple of years for me on some fronts and there has been less writing and relaxation and metaphorical lying on my back looking at the clouds than I would have hoped. Very often, I have felt as if I am simply scrabbling to keep my ground, rather than actually making any progress. But good things have happened. Many good things. And I am very fortunate. Mostly fortunate, in fact, and it is too easy to lose sight of that.
Okay, I know I talk a lot of talk about ducks, about Duck the First and Duck the Second as if they are actual books, rather than just ideas quacking softly in a corner of my brain.
But over the last few months I have been watching quietly while Duck the First came into being. I have seen pencil sketches of a little girl working at her desk, of a slightly grotty boy hanging over her backyard from a branch. I have squeed over colour roughs of Abby and Noah and Mrs Melvino and most of all, Max – the
difficult demanding different duck who takes up residence in Abby’s class.
I have been thrilled and delighted by the work of the wonderful Leila Rudge. It’s not that the characters are as I’d imagined them, that I feel satisfied seeing ‘my’ vision come to life. The truth is that I’m not much of a visual thinker and am not sure I had imagined them in any great detail at all. It’s rather that they are just so absolutely right for the book. Illustrators are wizards, I tell you.
Revisions on Duck for a Day are finished. The book is done. Now is the time to sit back, put my hands behind my head and forget about ducks for a while.
That’s what I think.
Is it a sign?
And if so, what does it mean?
In my ‘Writing’ folder there is a ‘Junior Fiction’ folder. In my ‘Junior Fiction’ folder there is a ‘Duck for a Day’ folder.
This is all well and good. This is the sign of an organised mind, an organised computer, a manageable filing system.
But what is inside the ‘Duck for a Day’ folder?
So I’m writing these duck books. Because I love ducks. But it seems that with duck-love comes responsibility. It seems that if you love a duck, you must not feed it Belgian chocolates. My eagle-eyed editor reads my manuscript and informs me that chocolates are not good for ducks and can actually be fatal. This is not good for my story-duck, Max, who is very fond of them. And whose fondness for said chocolates is very important to the story.
When my editor tells me of this unfortunate fact, I take a moment to pause. I say “Damn you, facts! Why must you always get in the way of a good story?”
Duck for a Day is an illustrated chapter book for ages 6-9 and it’s about a girl who has to contend not only with a new teacher but also with a duck named Max who is most definitely not your average class pet. The entire manuscript grew from the words “The duck was different. The duck had demands”, which popped into my head one day and refused to leave. I have seen some early sketches by the illustrator and they are simply gorgeous. I can hardly wait to see the finished product. But I will, of course, and while I’m waiting, I will write more books.