As my son was interested in my picture books I suggested he think about writing something himself. Surprisingly in the space of an afternoon he came up with a couple of solid ideas with what seemed like very little effort. After I helped him hone them into shape we had two complete stories well on the road for submission.
Why, I asked myself, can a teenager approaching his thirteenth birthday who’s far more interested in Nintendo DS than reading books still produce something so unaffected and fresh without any apparent toil, while for me writing my own picture book texts is like climbing mount Everest? The answer, as the missus wisely pointed out, is that my son was writing purely for fun, whereas for me it’s my job – I have all the pressure of trying to produce something that will sell, something that will catch the eye of an editor. In other words, my efforts carry the baggage of career. Whereas he is just having a bit of fun.
I wish I could write like I was “having a bit of fun”. I find it very difficult to shut myself off from the “job” aspects of what I do and just concentrate on the craft, even with illustration. Perhaps it’s the blue-collar heritage of my upbringing, the work ethic. Perhaps one reason I chose graphic art rather than “Fine Art” is because my creativity bends itself more easily to working within the framework of deadlines and briefs.
As the years go by it’s become more and more difficult to disassociate myself from working to a brief, to simply draw (or, write) because I love doing so, and not because I’ve a deadline to meet or some other target to attain. Seeing the way my son blithely and irreverently played with plot brings this message very firmly home. I need to loosen up!