As many of you know, I have a new picture book coming out very soon.
Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros will officially hit bookstores on 1 September. I’ve blogged previously about the inspiration for the book, and a little about the process of writing it. During that process, many things changed. Some were big – like the title. Others were small – a shift in phrasing that made a line sing, an ellipsis that opened up the ending.
And there was one that was both – tiny but enormous.
Here’s the last line as it appeared in one of the roughs:
If you’ve read the book, you should be able to spot the difference. If you haven’t, then know this: across many, many drafts, and until quite late in the process, my small rhinoceros was male. And then at a certain point, I said huh?
Because my small rhinoceros was male for no good reason. For no reason at all except that I had unconsciously defaulted to that without a moment’s thought. Continue reading
… there was a small rhinoceros.
It hung on the wall of an art gallery in Subiaco, all the way back in 1997. It was part of an exhibition entitled Three Narrative Artists.
And it looked like this:
[“Intrepid Journey” by Sue Templeton]
It was right near the entrance, and when I walked in on opening night, it stopped me in my tracks. There was something about the image I found intrinsically appealing. Or perhaps it was the combination of image and title – the word “intrepid” together with the rhinoceros and the boat.
It stayed with me, as things sometimes do unexpectedly. That’s something I love – that you never quite know what’s going to catch the light for someone. It isn’t always what you’d expect. In this case, it was a small rhinoceros.
But here’s where it gets interesting, because many years passed. Many, many years. And I guess my memory isn’t as good as I thought it was. Because when I thought about the rhino, I saw it as a tiny thing in a tiny boat on a very very wide and vast blue ocean. And I remembered the title as being simply “Intrepid”. I told myself it was the perfect marriage of that single-word title and the image that lent it appeal for me. Except that it wasn’t a single-word title and it also wasn’t a vast open ocean. In fact, looking at it now I’m not even sure it’s an ocean. Maybe it’s a desert. Maybe it’s a lava field. Maybe it’s the surface of the moon. Continue reading