As mentioned here and there over the past year, I have been working on a picture book. My first. It has been a challenge getting these reluctant birds off the ground, but in recent weeks I have made good progress. And hey! I’m excited that the story is, at long last, coming together.
Storyboarding the manuscript has proven more thought-consuming task than I had previously imagined. Where to start a sentence? Where to end it? What happens on the next page? And the next? Where in the story do the page breaks belong? How do I keep my reader turning and turning to find out what happens next? And more importantly: How do I fill an entire book with the same herons and still keep it interesting, different from spread to spread?
I’m not sure I have all the right answers to that right now. I must remind myself that these are thumbnail sketches, not finished masterpieces. It is tempting to go into feather-by-feather detail with each little 2-inch-high drawing. I tend to get lost in minutiae. When I do I must catch myself and force myself to step back into the big picture. A wider, less meticulous marker has come in handy.
This book has become somewhat of a “Kate Garchinsky’s Opus.” I first observed these lanky, prehistoric-looking birds over the summers of 2000-2004 at my ex-husbands’s family’s house in Avalon, New Jersey. Yellow-crowned night herons nested right outside the bedroom windows. I took hundreds of photos with my old-school SLR. I watched and observed several broods hatch, grow and fledge. I wrote the first draft one day in July 2005, shortly before moving to Colorado. It was, at the time, symbolic of the unknown journey that lay before me.
When I arrived in Colorado, the mountains quickly became part of me, and I grew distant from the herons of Avalon–but they never left my mind. As my life here changed, so did my marriage. Eventually I found myself out on my own in the land of snow and pine siskins. I had bought a new computer around that time and during the migration of data from one hard drive to the other, I stumbled an unfamiliar Word document, “Time to fly.doc.” I hadn’t read it in 3 years and until I opened it, had no idea what it was. The story found me exactly when I needed it.
Rereading a year ago, the words had new meaning. When I had written it I was learning to fly away from my birth nest of Pennsylvania. Three years later I was in the process of leaving the nest of my mate. And now a year has past and my life requires that I fly once more. Spring migration has begun. While my current nest has offered comfort and respite through storms and blizzards, I know that it is time. I’ve come full circle, and it is time once again to fly.
While I prepare for my next journey, I’ll post whatever progress I make here. My goal is to have all storyboards and at least one finished watercolor illustration complete for submission before I take wing.