Next week I am attending my first paid speaking event outside of the Boston area... I'll be doing several presentations at the West Virginia Book Fair in Martinsburg (www.wvbooks.org). Its been an interesting just getting ready for it- I am in awe of people that hit the road on book tour for weeks and months at a time, how do they stay on top of everything? Just re-organizing my presentation has taken hours on hours. Mainly because I am converting the slide show I usually give over to digital format (similar to Grace's very high tech set-up posted here). I stuck it out for a long time with my good old fashioned slide projector! I have to say though, going digital is much much easier, and I am less worried about technical glitches.
Anyways, preparing for this conference has also involved looking through all my old work from college and childhood, sorting and deciding what is important to show to kids, what to adults, and in what order. What best tells the story of how I became and illustrator and author? What steps led to breakthroughs and changes in my course? Putting together a progression of images for a presentation is a lot like putting together a book dummy, you are essentially trying to tell the story of your own development as an artist. Looking back over all the work, all the failures, what helped me move forward?
Its a very hard thing to define. I can show experimentation with media that helped me find the materials I use now. I can pinpoint places where I got control of the media and got really comfortable with it. And I can see, looking back, little snippets of an approach developing, a storytelling style of sorts. But it is still not so easy to explain that moment, when all those things sort of go out the window, and you just leap into that next phase artistically and creatively.
For this I am glad. It adds some mystery to the process and makes me excited to push forward. In a sense my 60 minute presentation on how I became an author/illustrator is as much an invention as anything I write in my books. Looking back one step didn't really lead into another. I took one step, a miracle happened, then I started stepping somewhere else.