Melbourne’s cold wintery days are just a little more appealing when nestling into the pages of my next project. It’s so good to be writing again. Night after night for 18 months, I’ve been sitting at my desk thrashing out pen and paper in the hope of penning the next J K Rowling ‘fly-off-the-shelf’ type piece. I doubt I’ve done that, but to be honest, I don’t care. As I sit back and stretch the aching muscles in my neck, I can’t help but grin at the mess of paper and drawings spread across my wall. The act of sucking out your imagination to lay it down in words and pictures is so rewarding. Creative freedom through writing has me well and truly in it’s grasp, but it’s not just writing the book that inspires me.
The interaction with the writing and education community – who are so supportive – keep me motivated and busting to get back to my desk. School incursions, where I run book reading and live sketching sessions, captivate me as much as they do my audience. The reaction from the kids is something that sticks with you. ‘I’m making a difference here!’ is often what I think as I wave to a sea of smiling faces. One particular example I have never forgotten – the time I visited a primary school in Perth. I started the morning with a book reading, followed by some hilarious digital sketching fun with the kids. I talked to them about self-awareness and self-empowerment – both common themes in my books. To conclude the presentation I ask the kids ‘if they all had fun?’, and they MUST answer ‘yes’ or I refuse to leave; much to the delight of the teachers who are lavishing in the chance to pass the whip to someone else for an hour. I noticed one of the boys just sitting idol, sad and alone. ‘WHAT!’ I exclaimed. ‘Someone here has not enjoyed himself!’ This didn’t help, which was awkward, so I thanked the class and left. A few days later, one of the teachers called. That same boy, who has hardly spoken a word since joining the school, returned the next day with a book he had written, complete with illustrations. He spoke about all the things he could achieve because Daniel said, ‘… you can if he just put your mind to it and try’. The teacher flew down to the local shop to grab a trophy and on the same day, presented it to him in front of assembly as a show of recognition. This was the first time he’d spoken in front of the school and since that day, he’s open up and is a changed kid. Wow! That’s enough for me.
Creative writing and illustration not only opened pathways for me but it’s helped me open up as well, and everyday presents something new and exciting. So I must get back to ‘The Mark of the Maker Stone’ – book one in a series about the adventures of Mary the Hairy Fairy. I’m on illustration number 176 and it looks like the final page count will be around 300! Here are some of the characters and scenes from the pages. More updates to come and don’t forget to ‘Laugh at Life Often!’.