On that fateful day I was talking with Pete Cowdin from the Rabbit Hole KC who'd just given a fascinating talk at Hallmark during Word Week. I was walking him out of the building. We talked about the Rabbit Hole. We talked about my job. Something Pete said caused a lightblub to switch on over my head and I walked away from him saying to myself, "I think I just got an idea for a Barbara Marhsall project."
I'd never before had even an inkling of an idea that was remotely worthy of a BMA proposal. So I wasn't sure if the idea I'd had after talking to Pete was legit. I spent a good 12 months thinking about it, refining it, seeking input from knowledgable folks (past BMA winners like Sergio, my wise and wonderful mother, my cleverest confidantes, Pete himself).
Finally, after much refinement, in January of this year I pitched my idea. And as anyone who knows me knows - I won.
|design by John Donne - illustration by Lynn Giunta|
I'm now one month into a six month sabbatical and have been blown away ... both by the excitement I feel as I explore the breadth and depth of the children's picture book world ... and by the disorientation I feel because - let's face it - I don't know what in the sam hill I'm doing. It's a huge shift to go from knowing just what to do to being so entirely clueless. I mean, even when, at work, I've had assignments that were nebulous, there is at least always some framework within which to work, some guide posts, some clear end goal in mind, and an amazing art director partner by my side with whom to figure things out. Here I am now - all by myself - making things up as I go along.
Not unlike Harold and the Purple Crayon. Faced with an empty page, I am creating the world in which I'm living for the duration of this sabbatical. And even though it'd be easy (and discouraging!) to say to myself "I don't know anything" - I've challenged myself to say instead, "I'm going to learn so much." And I am loving it.
I'm grateful for that day in November when a happenstance request ("Emily, do you mind escorting Pete around the building before he leaves?") and a quotidian question from Pete ("What is it you do here?") led me down the path I'm on now.
And as for the election and its ramifications? Well, I think we'd be fools not to consider the possibility that an important step towards ameliorating many of the problems that are breaking our hearts today is the foundation of empathy, imagination, and understanding that can be delivered so powerfully and poignantly to our next generation through books. From right here in our own homes and in our own laps.
Join me on the journey - www.TheBeginningOfYourLifeBookClub.com - and send me YOUR stories of the powerful way reading books with your kids has made a difference for you.