With thanks to Grace Bryant for her words.
We all know the feeling of self-doubt. It tiptoes politely around our tiniest, most beloved ideas, softly seeking permission to be present. Then gently questions, until it becomes a comfortable, familiar and almost reassuring voice. Then it starts poking. And pointing. Over time, that voice makes your tiny idea feel even tinier. This discouraging whisper often becomes a war cry, crushing your tiny idea even before it could blossom into a story.
We’ve all been there. Even the most successful, most talented, most celebrated authors and illustrators suffer this voice. And it’s not a voice that goes away. It must be managed; hushed with words of affirmation, saturated by hard work, reshaped though development, conquered by perseverance and straight up loved into submission. It’s definitely possible to shush this voice and to make space for your tiny idea to grow. And the reward for protecting your tiny idea from that big, nasty voice? Well, I’ll get to that.
SCWBI ACT’s August development event welcomed author/illustrator Caroline Magerl, author Emma Allen, illustrator Hannah Sommerville and NLA publisher Susan Hall, who generously shared their warm voices, brilliant ideas and contrasting experiences with us.
Believe it or not, Caroline Magerl’s pathway into illustration was neither linear, nor easy. She shared with us many ideas; some tiny, some grown and nourished through time and experience:
- Hold on to your tiny ideas and dispute your personal fail-voice;
- Modern day networking is a blessing. We’re lucky to be so connected and for opportunities to be visible, as this hasn’t always been the case;
- We don’t need a license to try, or to succeed;
- Have an agenda or you’ll become someone else’s agenda;
- Keep a line in the water; in fact, keep many lines in the water to stay diverse and at the edge of your abilities;
- In this industry, one success does not guarantee another;
- Follow through on your ideas and listen to your own voice;
- And most importantly, that crafting our tiny ideas into stories is more powerful than we can imagine. A children’s book is capable of influencing many lives.
If you ever get the chance to hear Caroline’s story, you won’t regret it. Not only does she spin a good yarn, its fibres are shorn from hard work, soaked in persistence and challenging times loving stitched together with her successes. Her most recent book, Maya and Cat is drawn from these experiences. It’s evidence that a tiny moment can become a tiny idea, which could impact someone, somewhere. Its stunning word choice and thoughtful, unexpected watercolour and ink illustrations are an utter delight.