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


  1. Oh, Brooke. I am so, so sorry for your difficulties and losses. I know there aren't really any words but know you're in my thoughts. Thank you for sharing your struggles. I know it is a difficult thing. It's much easier to pretend everything is hunky-dory, especially online. I am happy for you that you are able to push through now and look forward to a brighter future and stronger work. I am even happier you have such strong connections to fellow illustrators to keep you company on your way. Congrats again on your honor. Well done.

  2. Beautiful post and a great reminder. Every day I try to take a moment and just be grateful. Best wishes to you on so many things!

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts from the NY conference- am so sorry about your loss, and glad the fog is starting to go away a bit. On the map we are very close- I'm in SW Colorado and grew up in Loveland. I always head to LA for the summer conference- might see you there- congrats on finishing the books!!

  4. If you ever need someone to talk to I'm only a phone call away, and I'd love to hear from you. If anything, I'm a good listener.

  5. Brooke I've never met you but you're blog is always one I come back to because it makes me feel good, somehow, about myself. I know that once you start writing your own books that they will do that exact same thing. And that is at the heart of it all, no? "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."- Maya Angelou Also, thank you for your openness about everything. Thank you thank you thank you.

  6. I'm sorry to hear about your sad news. I wish you didn't have to go through these difficult challenges.
    But I'm of course happy to hear about your honor AGAIN!! And I'm looking forward to seeing your books!!

  7. Brooke, I am thinking of you and wish life didn't have its difficult times. I am sorry for your recent losses. At the same time, I am so, so proud of you and your work, and I hope you'll keep remembering to celebrate wonderful you every day: the inspiring person that you are and the beautiful and positive art you've added to our lives.

  8. Brooke, I'm so, so sorry. Sending good thoughts your way and here's to a Spring full of hope and goodness.

  9. So sorry to hear you have had some hard times, Brooke. Glad for the good things. Here's to all the new nice things that are surely on their way to you. :)

  10. Big hugs and love from me to you. You are an inspiration and I am sorry to hear about your hard times. We haven't seen each other in forever and if you are ever game to hang out, let me know. :) Spring is here and I am so happy about that. More sunshine to hang out in.