how long?

How long does it take to make a book?

It all starts with an idea, one’s imagination, a spark. And where do ideas come from? They come from parents, teachers, feelings, surroundings, experiences, dreams, likes and dislikes, things you’ve seen and heard, even your wishes... all these somehow add up to a story.

Once you have an idea, you sit down and sketch it out on a flat piece of paper. After it seems to work out all right, you put your story in rough form in a 32 page dummy (see newsletter #1).

Now you’ve begun. When will it end? Sometimes the idea develops nicely, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you work at it furiously and long hours; other times you may merely dabble a little here and there. You may get frustrated and banish your idea into a drawer or box (I have several idea boxes.) All this takes time. There are all kinds of reasons to delay your work: visitors stop by, the car needs to be taken to the repair shop, a dentist appointment. More time has gone by. By now you must be accusing me of hedging on an answer. The truth is, it’s a difficult question.

Let us look at two examples:

I worked on Do You Want to Be My Friend? for over two years. That doesn’t mean that I worked at it steadily. One day I worked on it joyously, but the next day I would have doubts about my story. Then the idea gets put away. Two months later I’d fiddle with it again. And so it went for almost two years. Do You Want to Be My Friend? was in a state of banishment, I had once again lost faith in it, when my British editor visited me. I did not mean to show her what I had done so far on Do You Want to Be My Friend?, but somehow it fell out of a box, and before I could hide it, my editor leafed through my dummy and had declared it wonderful. Encouraged, I finished the illustrations over the next weekend.

The idea for Little Cloud hit me like a lightening bolt. Excitedly I called my editor, Patricia Gauch, and she told me to go ahead. A week later, the finished art was delivered to the publisher.

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