To quote one of the great philosophers of our time, Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Ten years ago, I was feeling a bit discouraged. I’d been submitting work to publishers for a few years and had amassed a thick folder of rejection letters. There were a few personal notes in there, too — a few “Not for us but keep writing!”-type comments, a few “Revise and resubmit?” requests.
I felt like I was close, but also that I could stay close for the term of my natural life, that there was no guarantee a door would open for me, ever. I had begun wondering how much longer I could justify putting time into this writing thing for nil return. I was working long hours in academia; I had a young child. I was stealing time from all over the place in order to indulge this … whatever this was.
I knew I’d never stop writing, never stop jotting down small fragments here and there. But maybe I should stop trying to shape them into stories; maybe I should stick with poetry, which was where I’d started, after all.
Two months later, I signed a contract with Walker Books Australia to publish my first novel, Annabel, Again.
Over on the Ten Tiny Things blog, we’ve taken a break from our (ir)regularly scheduled tinies to bring you some news of the not-so-tiny kind …
Ten Tiny Things has just been announced as the winner of the Australia/New Zealand division of the SCBWI 2013 Crystal Kite Award!
The Crystal Kite Award is peer-voted by members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a global organisation to which I have belonged for many years.
Yes, I know he isn’t exactly Mr Curly. That would be like saying I’m Ruby, or Cassie, or possibly even Max.
But last weekend at the Perth Writers Festival, I met the maker of Mr Curly and of many things duckish and otherly delightful – Michael Leunig. I’ve made no secret of the fact that the original inspiration for Duck for a Day came from an interview Leunig did with Andrew Denton, but beyond that, I’ve been a long-time fan of Leunig’s work, which my father shared with me from a very early age. The corkboard above this very desk is dotted with tattered Leunig cartoons, snipped from newspapers here and there over the years.
Last year I was lucky enough to do some work with TravelSmart, who used my picture book Ten Tiny Things as part of their TravelSmart to School program.
At the end of the year, schools who have been involved in the program send student representatives along to an awards day where everyone shares the ways in which they’ve put the TravelSmart message into practice in their school community. I was invited to attend this event and deliver a workshop for the kids which teachers and other accompanying adults could then take back into schools and adapt/extend for a larger group.
During the morning, the kids did a few preliminary activities using images from the Ten Tiny Things blog. They were asked to write a caption or a description of what they saw happening in the pictures. Check out some of the things they came up with below:
… about the Ten Tiny Things launch.
1. It was held in the State Library, at “The Place”, to which all visitors are greeted by a welcoming book-themed cow.
2. It featured many foods of the tiny variety – sushi, tiny teddies, and other teeny delicacies. In keeping with the theme, we understand they were gone in the tiniest blink of an eye.
3. Award-winning illustrator and known rabble rouser Frané Lessac launched the book with a DIY rocket launcher, propelling it unwittingly into the arms of Meg’s daughter, the original inspiration for the book.
… where I tell you I’ve been busy.
And where I use the cunning technique of splitting the first sentence in order to form a pointlessly catchy title for the post. A title that tells you nothing much at all. A title that if it tells you anything, tells you that this is going to be one of those shapeless, formless catch-up posts that people who are fond of articles with titles like “Ten Top Tips For Terrific Blogging” are so appalled by.
So I’ve been busy – busy being hard on myself for not having finished the novel I began so-called ‘fast-drafting’ at the beginning of the year. Apparently for me, fast drafting means an average of about 12.6 words a day. Which are then thrown out the next day, to be replaced by 12.6 possibly better ones.
But then I’ve been busy remembering that I have three books coming out in the US this year (No Bears, Duck for a Day, and Surface Tension, now known as Below, about which I shall write a vastly more terrific post at a later date), and two in Australia (Ten Tiny Things, Wreck the Halls, about which, terrific-ness, also later). And that I have in fact been occupied rewriting and copy-editing and proofreading and visiting schools and libraries and conferences and answering interview questions and doing promotional stuff here and there and everywhere and the many, many other bits and pieces associated with what it means to have five books coming out in the same year.
I’ve been sitting on this news for a while, waiting for an illustrator to be confirmed, but now that all is signed and sealed, I can announce that I have a new picture book forthcoming in 2012!
This one is with Fremantle Press, which is fitting as it’s a ‘very Freo’ book in many ways. It’s called Ten Tiny Things and it’s inspired by something my daughter and I often do when we go out walking, an activity we have cleverly named “Things We Would Never Have Seen If We Had Been Driving”. As you can see, I have a way with words …
I’ve seen early sketches and am very excited about what’s to come for this book. The illustrator is this guy. He’s a little creepy but there’s not much I can (or would) do about that. Click on the “Secrets” link on his site to see why he’s perfect for the book. You’ve probably seen his work in the city, possibly without even realising. You would probably have seen more of it had you been on foot …
Watch this space for more details. Watch the secret spaces all around you for random flashes of loveliness. Go out walking. See if you can spot ten tiny things.