Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shout out for a friend

"A Christmas Thief" written and illustrated by Middy Thomas is finally published and available for purchase. Maybe just in time for Christmas. This is a childrens' book written by a vibrant, fun loving 80 year old artist. Middy lives in mid-coast Maine and this is her 6th or 7th or 8th book, so she says. Its a delightful story children will relate too and Middy's illustrations bring the characters and action of the story to life. Its a beautiful book. But it makes me wonder if the parents and children who'll read it, have any idea of the work and effort and time that has gone into making this book, or any book? Its a lot of work. But more then that, for a writer or artist (and Middy is both) it seems with each new work, each new creation, the writer or artist gives up a little piece of themselves. They put so much into the act of creating something new and fresh and compelling. There's joy and satisfaction and relief in the end, but the process is often not easy. Books don't just happen. Writing a book is a business, even if you have no intentions of publishing. There are long hours of typing and painting and re-writing involved. And then when you decide to take the work public it becomes even more of an enterprise involving money and taxes and time tables and schedules and compromises and working with other people. It's not easy. I will never forget when "Sandbox Camp Tales" came back from the first editing. I was devastated! I had no idea the readers and editors would make so many changes. How could they? This was my work. Those were my words. I'd written the sentences they way I wanted them to sound. I was stunned. The publisher was matter-of-fact. "They've cleaned up a lot of mistakes and eliminated confusion", she said. "They've killed my book!" I said. She looked at me and rolled her eyes. "Do you want people to be able to read this or not?" she asked. Hard. Cold. Unyielding. "Well, yes...of course." I stammered. "Ok then," she said, "Lets go over the changes." And we began. Reviewing all the changes was agonizing. But there is was. Editing and re-writing is part of the process. Middy told me she was unhappy with the colors. "They didn't come out like the originals," she said. And I knew exactly what she meant. We laughed together. "It's like giving birth," I told her. There's a lot of pain an discomfort but its worth it. Middy said "I suppose so." As I said, "A Christmas Thief" is a beautiful book. It was written and illustrated by a beautiful person.

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