What if you write a picture book and then really hate the way an illustrator illustrates your story? Is it hard to watch your story change into something else? What if the illustrations don’t look the way you imaged? What if the illustrator doesn’t draw what’s in your head?
Here’s the thing: An illustrator is never going to draw what’s in my head. The illustrations are never going to look the way I imagined. So I’m okay with that. It’s not like a nasty surprise. Also, I enjoy watching my story grow into something else while I sit about drinking cups of tea and working on a completely different project.
Maybe it’s because I’m very certain about my undeniable lack of talent in the area of visual arts but I love how once I’ve handed over the text my work is done. I don’t want to review the illustrations mid way and make design suggestion. I’d rather leave all that to the experts. I don’t find it hard to watch the story grow into something else. In fact, I relish it. It feels like a gift when someone else cares about the story as much as me and is as committed to making it better. What a privilege. What a joy. Am I being too gushy? I gush with sincerity.
An illustrator could never recreate what’s in my head because my head is scrambled. When I’m writing I feel like I have a logical visual narrative until I try to explain it to someone and realise that I can’t. What I have in my head is fragmented. There are pieces of people I know, chunks of old conversations, words I’ve made up, imagined realities, translucent images, fleeting feelings, deep emotions, noises from somewhere, tastes and space. Trying to create a coherent linear description of what I have in my head is like trying to make a dream sound real. For me it’s the words that reveal the story I want to share and if I’ve done my job well enough then I’ve captured the parts that need to be written. Call me lazy, but I’m happy to let the illustrator do the rest.
And what if I write a picture book and then really hate the way an illustrator illustrates my story? I don’t know. It’s just not something I worry about.
Staying Out of the Picture © Katrina Germein 2011