Thursday, March 13, 2014

New York, Spring, and other things...

The last few months have left me feeling a bit wrung out. There have been good things; visiting with illustrator friends, a trip to beautiful southern Florida, attending the SCBWI conference in NY where my portfolio earned one of the honor awards, and finishing the illustrations for my first two books.  And there have been hard things; surgery to remove ovarian cysts, followed by a miscarriage, and most recently, the death of my grandmother.   And now, on the threshold of spring, I am ready for green and sun and new beginnings.

I'm thinking about my work as an illustrator and the stories I'd like to tell and about learning to write those stories.  One of my very favorite speeches from the NY SCBWI conference came from author, Kate Messner.  Kate talked about failure.  Her speech was funny and heartfelt and full of inspiration.  I hope that you were there to hear it, too.  But, if you weren't, here are a few of the highlights...

"When we keep moving the bar, we can turn anything into a failure."

"You have to fall if you want to fly."

"Be brave, but it's okay to be afraid." 

"What would you do if you knew that failure was impossible?"

She also said, "The only thing we control at the end of the day is the way we do our work", which was very comforting to me.  There are so many aspects of life that we are not in control of.  But, I can control what I put into my work.  I can choose to draw everyday.  I can choose to practice writing.  I can choose to share my writing with my critique group, even if I'm afraid my story is a flop.  I can work hard to improve my craft.

Kate also gave us a moment to sit in silence and appreciate our successes, small or large.  This was the point in the speech when both the friend I was sitting next to and I were searching for tissues.  It's easy to focus on the not-so-good things, and taking a moment to appreciate the happy things, the steps forward, and the small triumphs, felt really good.  

So, I hope that you, too, will take a moment to celebrate your successes, both large and small, and to appreciate the good in your life and your career.  And I hope that you find joy in the warmth of spring, in the company of friends, and in the work you do.

Me with illustrators Jessixa Bagley and Lisa Anchin
Excellent illustrator friends; Rodolfo Montalvo, Rene Spencer, Andy Musser, Linda Dorn, and Corinna Luyken
Illustrators Lisa Anchin, Maple Lam, and Jen Betton