I have been THERE, but I have not been HERE writing this blog for about six months. Life just got in the way, like it usually does when you juggle as many things as I do. At the end of September I moved my father into an Adult Family Home the same weekend that we had the funeral for my dear Mother-in-law. Then I spent months up to my eyeballs in filth and hoarded art, books, stuff- clearing out my father's mess, getting his condo fixed up (Thank you, Manning Sedgwick Realty) and sold.
Life is a crazy journey and my journey has been a very strange road trip. I dreamt of a wonderful creative life where I'd just be writing and illustrating and making books that people would love, and parts of that came true, but the way it happened wasn't very dreamy. It has not been easy juggling my career with my family, and I give birth to book ideas all the time, and then they have to sit and wait for me to be able to get to them.
"Are We There Yet?" my new book, which just came out on March 1st from my longtime publisher, Chronicle Books, was no exception. I originally conceptualized this book in June 2006 while I was driving to our home on Lummi Island.
For seven years I took numerous detours and had to deal with family crises that I wish upon no one. I only had two books come out in those seven years, my baby book, "Who Loves You, Baby?" and my cloth book, "Button Nose." I kept writing during that time. I even wrote a novel.
Finally in 2013 I was out of the worst of the nightmarish period and I was finally THERE. I created these detailed thumbnails for "Are We There Yet?" and submitted the book.
Then the journey took another detour that surprised me. I had submitted this book thinking that I was going to illustrate it, but I was not offered that opportunity. I was working on my "Peek-a Book" series at the time, so I let it go. I've been asked why I didn't illustrate it, and honestly, I don't have a good answer. What I will say is that Adam McCauley used my sketches as a launching point and added his cool details and did a masterful job.
I've had a lot of fun "performing" "Are We There Yet?" in schools over the past two plus weeks- I have the kids play "the kid" and I play "the mom," and they love asking "are we there yet?" over and over as we go deeper into the journey of imagination, and when reality returns, and it seems "boring," then they get to say, "let's do it again!"
I've also written the "Are We There Yet?" song- on my ukulele. When I get over being afraid of filming myself playing it, I'll share it here or there...
The next strange part of this journey is that there is another book of the exact same name coming out from Caldecott medalist, Dan Santat. I have not seen his book. I do not have his marketing, or his momentum. But I do have my own road and my own journey to stay on and enjoy the scenery- because the one thing I've learned after over twenty-two years of making children's books is that wherever you are, you are always THERE, and THERE is where you are meant to be.
I hope you will share some of my journey with me.
I love having you all along for the ride...
And YES, we are there.