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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Agy Wilson on why you need to suck it up and keep going.

 Nan's Gift is a quiet story with fun language
and warm illustrations,
Nana's Gift is appropriate for readers young and old.
 

Amazon.com
Amazon.UK
There is a great deal of paradox to any art. Pushing on through creatively means a lot of butt-in-chair time, and one has to master both objectives in order to succeed.

My mother and grandmother gave me permission. Go write, go draw. More than likely to get me out of their hair, but it became a good use for my time. I fell into the love of creating images whether with words or lines quite by accident. I soon found people responded with "ooohs" and "ahhhs". I still love the appreciation people feel about my work, and I love the time spent ferreting out expression from a page. Each step of the way though I improved, there was more to challenge me. That was true then, it's just as true over forty years later. I hope it's still true in another forty.

Perhaps you're not as luck as I was, being a pain and then being directed toward falling in love with something before you can say no. But you can pick up a craft anytime along the path of your life.

Frannie never expected a ghost
with revenge
on her mind!

Coming Soon!
Mid-grade
It's the doing of something, the investment of yourself your time and thought, which transcends craft into art. Or, as one of my favorite sayings put it, "It's never to late to be what you might have been." (George Sand).

My new venture has catapulted me into uncharted territory. I published Nana's Gift last year after years of traditional pursuit and moderate success. The goal is to publish more of my own books, and a co-adventure with the fabulous Margot Finke. I'm not only illustrating and formatting epicture books, but in Margot's case, I'm animating her charming stories-- they just lend themselves to it.

But I knew nothing of Photoshop, and I only knew of WacomTablets a year ago. This year I learned about Mobi and Sigil and InDesign and Smashwords. As you read this, I'm in the process of learning about applications, animations, Adobe Catalyst and DRM, and sometimes my mind is boggled about how much I've learned and how much I need to know. Pushing through means really applying myself in ways I've not done. Perhaps ever. Whether you're already doing something outside your comfort zone or thinking about it, a lot of success is mindset. I thought I'd tell you my secret to the paradox in case you're thinking of doing something crazy as well.

Imagyne
OF COURSE DO YOUR BEST!  But just as importantly LEARN to your best. Absorb as much as you can from the best sources you can find and don't be afraid to go back or spend some time really becoming comfortable with your subject. Recently I decided to revisit character development, I found someone outstanding in his field, and for a twenty dollar investment in his books and the time to read and process them (about two days), my characters became ever so much stronger. Don't have the money? Get a library card, and check out interlibrary loan. Research through Youtube, your friends, any professional groups, and don't be afraid to ask people you admire, what their influences are. Join a critique group. Can't find one, find a few friends who you can trust, and start one. Yellapalooza just celebrated its tenth anniversary and I would have been lost with them.


Imagyne
IT'S A JOB. If you wait for the mood to strike, it just might not. In order to master ANYTHING it takes DOING. Wrestle with it, make some crap if you have to, don't give up. You can put one thing down for a little bit if you're too frustrated, but make sure you pick it back up. Me, I tend to put it down and pick up something related, so I stay focused on my goals at hand.

AND IT'S PLAYTIME. Don't be afraid to try new things, see where it goes. We haven't decided where to go with Margot's characters yet, but I loved all the rendering styles (rare for me) and they were quite out of my normal handling. Because it was fun.

BUT YOU GET MORE WITH HONEY. Reward yourself when you achieve something, anything. If you're at all like me, your infernal internal editor can really knock you about. Invite her in for tea and crumpets, or whine, er, wine and cheese, and point out what you do that's good. Me, I've been rewarding myself with an episode of a television show, or small predetermined gifting. Yes, Agy, you can have that chocolate bar if you finish that chapter. Watch the tutorials on Youtube for two hours with good notes, and you can watch a Netflix with the family. Even if you would have done that already, it's good to acknowledge the positive. Be very careful though, because this tends to spill over into other aspects of your life.

FINALLY LISTEN TO YOURSELF. If you honor your process, you're much more likely to be successful. Besides, how can others take you seriously if you don't yourself? I can tell when my procrastination is about needing a break and when it's fear and something to be waded through with my Wacom and ergonomic keyboard in hand.



I've found when I'm most engaged in my projects, I get the best responses from others. I've pushed at being fearless in my embrace of what I do, that I feel for it. When I give myself permission, it brings me full circle back to when I was gifted so long ago. Appreciation and enjoyment. No longer will someone send me away to do these things, so that is something I must create for myself.  Because I've braved this venture, I've met some wonderfully talented people. I've rekindled my love of art and writing, and even learning. I'm enjoying the work immensely.

Most of all, I'm getting back in touch with myself, that inner kid I heard tell about, the one I'd started writing to, long, long ago. No one may care if I do this, until perhaps after I'm done with this adventure, and that is probably as it should be. It is what it truly means to be creative, and for someone who has done it most of her life, I'm amazed that it's taken me so long to get to this step.



All illustrations here are the work of Agy Wilson.

Agy Wilson is an author, illustrator, egg artist and calligrapher living in Maine. You can contact her via her fanpage, Agy Wilson.

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