How writing and illustrating my first children's book changed everything
"I'm going to write and illustrate my own children's book." I announced confidently to my husband from across the dinner table while our two children refused to eat the meal I had made. The concept seemed simple enough. I paint all of the time, how hard could it be?
After a sleepless night I spent the morning searching the internet for how to actually make this happen. Whoa, lots of information. I needed to know more than I expected.
In April 2022 I bought books, lots of books. I listened to podcasts, I watched youtube videos. With information overload I sat down to write my first draft of what I called, Beach Book. I e-mailed it to my mom, "What do you think?". She replied, "nice." Sheesh, I needed to do better. I wrote and rewrote. I hired an editor, and then it started to get better. I was able to tell her about the pictures I had in my head and we worked together to adjust the words. I wanted it to be a simple story, something easy for a tired mom to read to her kids at night. She understood me completely.
I painted three illustrations before the final draft of the book was even done, and then...nothing. I was busy, I was going to art festivals, marketing my paintings, working my full time job, taking care of my kids, getting the flu, twice! The book became a dusty old google doc.
In October 2022 I thought my head was going to explode. I was so burnt out from the hustle. I told my husband I was ready to quit my art business. He refused to accept that truth, and together we agreed what I needed was a break. I gave myself a vacation knowing that it could ultimately kill my art business. I decided I would turn down every commission inquiry and wouldn't sign up for any art events for a full year. The only work I did was for my cousin's wedding, low pressure. I trained for and ran a half marathon. And then I painted a little.
Without the pressure of selling, painting became light again. In January 2023 I opened the book document, I made a list. It was time to do this. I promised myself I would only paint when I wanted to, I mostly only worked on rainy days when I couldn't run. The more pages I completed the more I wanted to do. I could see the book in my mind and then, all of the sudden, a fire within me burned. I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself so I promised to take things slow, no deadlines, no limiting beliefs.
The story was changing...
In June I was nearly done painting the illustrations. I reached out to a local publishing company and we signed a contract. And although I spent a lot of time traveling, by the end of the summer, I was done painting. My husband spent countless hours scanning and editing all of the artwork and by mid-September everything was submitted to the publisher.
Now I still have much to learn about the publishing, marketing, and selling of this book, but I can't wait to learn more. I feel excited and refreshed. My burnout was cured by rest, changing the story, and my amazingly supportive family and friends. We are only a few short weeks away from releasing the book for sale, so make sure to stay tuned.