Oh my gosh. Where do I start?
When I welcomed my first child I knew I was going to try something different. I wanted to be home with him (and his sister a few years later) as much as I could. I dreamed of being an author and illustrator for trade children's books, and I had a plan. A really long plan.
So I've been quietly working away for all these years on my own stories and art. I've watched so many friends launch great careers, while I was on this slow path - often it was hard to tell if I was moving forward at all. Throughout, I had wonderful years with the best little people. The have taught me a million things about patience, laughter, mess, and change. Oh, and all the books we have read and loved together.
But the honest truth is that taking such a long break from client work and a professional identity took an incredible toll on me. As much as I wouldn't trade the years, they have been hard.
There were clear signs that I was making progress - finishing a dummy. Finishing another. And another. Feeling ready to find an agent. Getting an agent. Submitting stories. Collecting rejections. Getting revision requests. Having a book make it to acquisitions meetings. Revising again. And again. And all the weeks in between any news of waiting. Oh, the waiting.
It would be impossible to have taken this path alone. I've had amazing support - my family, my Picture Book Junkies, my original Smells Like Crayons crew, my local P.I.S.S group, my unofficial west coast team, my agent, my Minnesota cheerleader.
Even with all the signs that I was getting close, I really didn't know if I would ever be able to have this:
I keep telling friends that it doesn't feel real yet. How could it? It's just been a dream for so long.
Then, life handed me a bonus dream:
This is such an amazing project on every level. And it's on my desk right now. I'll let you know when it feels real.