Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Looking back

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.


Meghan McCarthy said...

I've been struggling with this too! I have agreed to do a small presentation and don't know how to sum things up and explain how I got to where I am now.

I wish I could see all the BRG presentations for inspiration... and maybe for theft. Just kidding. Just inspiration I swear!


Linda S. Wingerter said...

My new favorite quote:

"I took one step, a miracle happened, then I started stepping somewhere else."

Isn't that just how it is. I'm going to blog about that. :)

Libby Koponen said...

This is honest and inspiring and heartfelt. Can I buy a print of the hoola hoop or capaleira bunny on your Web site (www.annaalter.com)? Then I'll write that sentence about small steps and miracles on the back of it and hang it by my computer.

Thank you Anna!

Anna Alter said...


You should come to Smith on November 7th if you can, me, Grace and Jarrett are all visiting for their book fair and (I'm assuming) all giving presentations. Feel free to steal away! We've all done it! You just start out borrowing, then build out something thats unique to you.