Preparation (and some art, too)

I am a person of projects. This means I seem to always live in a season of busyness, though change comes in what I’m busy with.

This time of year, I am grateful for preparations made in anticipation and watchful hope because in the act of laying out the best china, bringing in firewood, or wrapping presents, I’m taught the beauty of making ready.

Special occasions bring a glow to tasks that might seem dull at all other times. Setting a table becomes the careful work of an artist. Shuffling away papers and old magazines prepares the room for honored guests. Putting on some soft music tunes the orchestra that will set the mood for a joyful evening.

These are recognizable acts of making ready, but this is something that happens year round, special occasion or not–company present or not.

A bit over a year ago, I hesitantly put my hat in the ring for illustration work for classroom curriculum. Little did I know that I would create three picture books for them, the last of which I got to write, too.

It’s tempting to play it down, to tell myself it isn’t that big of a deal. But this fall, I found myself bringing not only my words to a conference, but my art as well. I entered a picture for a calendar competition. This fall, I even decided to enter an international illustration contest through the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

The challenge of the Narrative Art Award is to create a story using only three panels, three pictures that present a problem, a complication, and a solution without using any words at all. Since this year was the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the theme was “Misunderstood Monster.”

Here is my story:

The Problem

The Beginning copy

The Complication

The Middle copy

The Resolution

The End copy

I didn’t win the award, but I have surprised myself (and that is a wonderful prize itself).

None of these things would have happened without the preparation that began last year. In writing and illustration both, I still have much to learn, but I am grateful for the chance to reflect back on where I was not even that long ago. I am thankful for the opportunities to keep growing, to keep trying.

I hope wherever you are and however this time of year looks for you that your preparations are going well. I pray you continue to do, try, and be. Even small attempts can become great efforts.

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