Monday, 16 February 2009


For those of you who might wonder what drives a man to whittle away his seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months and years writing a children's picture book, and then why he writes another two, and then what possesses him to set about illustrating them all when really he isn't an illustrator or a writer and he hasn't got any children, well, then you better read on...

It's all Mike's fault (part 1)
Back in the day, and I forget when it was, [I suppose I could find out, but I'm not going to bother] my mate Mike who has always been into writing [he's written an (as yet unpublished) novel and comes up with books to write all the time] told me one day of a competition run by Little Tiger Press It was a competition to write a children's picture book. The prize was to have your book published and then I guess be one of their writers, and become famous and buy houses and things, and then there would be film deals and everything, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. Now, I thought a bit about this, having never really ever thought about writing a children's book before and found little idea shaped nuggets would form between my ears and if they were very lucky they would get scribbled down onto paper and sometimes even REMEMBERED.

The first book
An idea started to form which was based on a comment I made while having lunch with friends. Or was it? I don't know it's all a bit hazy now, but it was basically about a boy who woke at 4am and looked out of the window to discover the world wasn't there. Now I've just said that out loud, as it were, I wonder if I went the right way with that initial premise, that little remembered nugget from between my ears. But that's one of the important things I have learnt through at least the writing process that decisions are difficult, because they could go one of several hundred ways, at least. It's also one of the bits I struggle with the most. With one decision comes more, and more, and then what? This is probably why the initial writing process for that one story took me several months, fine tuning, annoying friends and girlfriend to read through and try and force them to be honest when all you want to hear is 'IT'S BRILLIANT!' and then editing it over and over and over and... AND... AND... AND... IT WAS ONLY 700 WORDS! So once I'd finished it I posted it off. Knees knocking and god knows what thoughts were running through my head of this and that and what ifs. Unbeknown to me I had caught the bug. The bug of telling a story. The drawing would come later, that was also Mike's fault and Rhian's too. But I like to blame Mike.

Let me tell you a story
I think I've had the bug for telling stories for years and years. I remember drawing comic strips as a child, and enjoyed writing stories when I had to at school. I went to college and studied animation which as you know is a great story telling medium and I loved telling stories, however small. I started a novel when I came to my current job. I was in a bed sit for 3 months, a god forsaken horrible grimy hair covered place with a small table and a single bed. Joy. But with me I had an ancient laptop [which I still have] and I started to write a book. Well I didn't realise it was a book when I started I thought it was a very silly letter. But hey, four nights later and I had 5 some what sporadic and rambling chapters. It remains unfinished. But from then on, ALL of my projects were story telling. Series of children's books, short films, long animated films, film scripts, and children's picture books. My only problem was completing ANYTHING. 'The problem is,' said Rhian, my girlfriend, 'you never finish any of these projects, you need to finish one before you go on to the next'. She was right, is right. This is what this blog is about, one man's struggle to finish one [ok three] of the hundreds of projects he wants to create, to have, to possess. It's a struggle though I can tell you.

The other two

Now, yes, you're right to point that out, this blog is called 'The Three Books' and for a very good reason. Because I have 3 children's picture books on the go. How silly. Well doesn't one just seem like I have all my eggs in one basket? Two isn't quite right, and three is a nice balance. So three it is. To be honest it could easily have been twenty by now. I'm not showing off, I'm not saying they'd all be any good, not at all. But I have had at least twenty ideas for children's picture books. And they're just the ones which came to me whether I liked it or not.

So where did the other two come from? Well once that other one was sent off, and probably because it took so long to form, and also because I now had the bug, I sat and wrote a story. Quickly. I think it took about an hour. I edited it once and that was it, done. About a week or two later I wrote another one. Not so quick to do to be honest, but more or less written in a day. The latter two books remain people's favourites too. How annoying eh?

But what about the competition?
I never did win that competition before you ask. Not even slightly.

So why are you illustrating them?
So why am I illustrating them? Well I have drawn for my whole life. I am a motion graphic designer, but also a traditionally taught animator, so I can draw. Not as well as you might imagine. In fact my drawing reached new heights not too long back, maybe 9 years ago in life drawing classes. I had never got on well with life drawing until I went to life drawing sessions off my own back. Something clicked in the freedom and the desire to draw as well as the mates I went there with. Now these stories were ready to go off to publishers, they were edited down, I was happy with them, I was ready. A final read through from Rhian and Mike my unofficial editors, all was ok as far as they were concerned [mike never did enter anything into that competition, don't even think he wrote a word] but... they said 'Are you going to illustrate them then?' WHAT!? AM I WHAT? And that was that. 3 years later and I'm still doing that very thing. Now I'm not a fast drawer for sure, but I'm not that slow. But I work full time, and many other things have stopped total dedication to these 'Three Books'. Anyway, that's where you come in... the stories are written... but the pages aren't drawn.

The final aim
My intentions are to draw up the 3 books in rough form, and send through either printed rough books, or a PDF of them. Then also work up 2-3 colour spreads as finished bits of artwork. Phew, doesn't sound too much I know, but it is!

I won't be putting the full stories on here, or the final rough books either, but I will show the process and snippets. Teasers you might say. Well I hope they're teasing anyway...

Thanks for listening you lovely person
Are you still there? I do hope so. Hopefully this hasn't made your nose bleed or for you to miss the birth of your first baby or the conception or the initial conversation about whether you should try or not. That's not really general enough is it? It sounds like I'm talking to a man, but you could easily be a woman, or both. You might not want kids, you might be too old to have any more, or want any more. You might be too young (although looking at the news today what is too young?). You might be hundreds of different things and I really do hope you are. Keep coming back. I do hope it's even slightly interesting or entertaining. And hopefully at some point in the future you can go into a bookshop whether it be real or virtual and buy not one book because thats not quite enough, not two because that just doesn't seem right, but three. Three books, because that's just nice and balanced isn't it? Plus I'll get more cash.


Anonymous said...

Cool stuff Simonae

Simon said...

Well thanks very much there Lukiewookie.