I think there's as a part in any creative process where the creator steps back and says to themselves "What am I doing?!" For me, that was when I was sitting on the floor surrounded by all the hand-drawn pictures for Peppercorn Mill, with my recently-addended to-do list in my hands, looking at the to-do list item that just says "organise?" and not for the life of me remembering what that meant.
To-do: be clearer with to-do items.
Anyway, the item before the mysterious "organise?" was "confirm images and layout", which is why the pictures were on the floor. I don't consider myself a perfectionist, but I do like things to be the best they can be, especially when it's something I'll be sharing with other people. So I guess what I'm experiencing with the book now is the publishing equivalent of what I like to call 'leaving the house anxiety'. You know the thoughts... Did I leave the stove on? Is the back window closed? Did I unplug my hair straightener? So in the run up to finishing this project, I'm starting to feel the doubt, and I'm having to check and double check to make sure everything is absolutely as it should be.
But, back to the matter at hand. The pictures. All the pictures for Peppercorn Mill were drawn by hand and then edited digitally. The choice to do it this way was pretty obvious for me: I love making art but am not great at free-hand drawing. That's really all there was to it. I knew I wanted something visually striking and unique, so when I started experimenting with illustration styles, the first one I did that jumped out to me was the mouse on the tree branch, in the silhouette style. And something clicked, so I decided to continue with the silhouette idea.
In the story, the mouse sees a rainbow for the very first time, and is so enamoured with it that he begins a life-long search to recreate it somehow. The importance of the colours in the story also needed to be represented in the book, so in the final digital versions there are smatterings of colour throughout that grow as the story develops. For me, the illustrations had to complement and reflect the story without being too detailed - the story of Peppercorn Mill is quite wordy in itself, so I couldn't have the pictures detract from that, but they still needed to fit together.
I'm really excited about the way it turned out. Even though that little voice in the back of my head is saying Is it really done? Is that picture good enough? Are there enough pictures? Why don't you just have a professional illustrator do it for you? Did you unplug your hair straightener? I just have to trust myself on this one.
And whenever that question becomes the age-old all-encompassing existential crisis of "What am I doing?!" I just have to take a breath and remind myself of the truth: I'm doing something I love.
Current launch status: on schedule for August
Current mood: 80% calm. 20% "Did I unplug the hair straightener?"