Children’s books ooze with themes of hope. No matter how dreary or depressing the subject matter, it’s a seemingly unbreakable rule that the children’s book reader is left with a sense of optimism.
Yet, that is not the case for the children’s book creator. Who knows, perhaps we funnel all our hope into the books, leaving none for ourselves. But the nature of our profession, between the rejections and the rat race of marketing, is one that easily leads to despondency. It’s so easy to wallow in a pit of gloom when others have legions of fans, posters, billboards and awards while your books go quietly out of print as if they never existed. Or, worse yet, when they never even get published and aren’t allowed to see the light of day. Suddenly, the hours, days and years of slaving for a project just seem so…pointless.
But they’re not. In one of my most favorite picturebooks, Miss Rumphius, the grandfather says to young Alice, “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” Alice spends her life trying to figure what to do, in the end realizing that her way is to spread lupine seeds over the earth.
Well, our books are our lupine seeds. Yes, some die, some never take root and many of them are only seen by a handful of people. But the beauty they have brought to the fabric of the world is immeasurable by a calculator or cash register. And it doesn’t matter if our books are only one or two out of the millions out there, does the commonplace nature of a daisy make it less lovely?
When things are rough, many times I say to myself, “I should quit making children’s books, I should do something else…” But the truth is-- what would I do? What else could I do to make the world more beautiful? And I realize that there is nothing else I can do because there is nothing else I want to do-- which means there is nothing else I was meant to do. And that, in itself, gives me hope.