Recently, someone asked me why I bother blogging. Why indeed, dear reader. Basically, I suppose, I blog because I am a writer. I am a writer to my core. Writing is a compulsion. Ideas and thoughts well up inside me, nag me and needle me, until I have no choice but to write them down. I don’t always enjoy writing. In fact, I often hate it. Writing does not help me make sense of the world—nothing has been able to do that. But it does help me make sense of my own thoughts. It helps me put them in order so that when I’m finished I can stand back and say, ‘Oh goodness, is that what I’ve been thinking? It felt so different when it was floating about in my noggin.’ Like an artist who frames a view with thumb and index finger, writing captures and shapes the images in my mind, giving them form. Blogging is just an extension of that. Blogging gives a theme to some of the more disparate aspects of my life. Mine is by and large a personal blog. Yes, I blog about my work from time to time, but more often than not I blog about the minutiae of my life; the little things that would otherwise pass by unnoticed—and uncelebrated.
Unlike scribbling in a journal and stashing it under the mattress, blogging also brings me in contact with Readers (do you hear excited whooping?) and all sorts of other talented souls right across the globe. There’s Becky in Sweden, Julie in the States, Michele in the UK. And closer to home, Jo in Lismore (sometimes she’s in the attic, sometimes the basement, I follow her wherever she goes), and Josephine in Sydney. Josephine has a special place in my heart not only because I love her writing and her elegant take on life, but also because it was her blog that inspired me to create Baxter Street. I follow many other fabulous blogs and there are links to all of them on my home page. Which brings me to Claire Robertson at Loobylu.
I began following Loobylu about three years ago, popping in every now and then to marvel at the exploits of this Melbourne lass who had sailed away with her young family, setting up house on an island somewhere in the ‘saltish sea’ off the coast of Canada. I was a fan of Claire’s from the outset—of her writing and her illustrations. Now, I don’t recall the chain of events, but as chance would have it Claire’s daughter was a fan of one my little characters, Tan Callahan. Thus Claire and I shared several private tête-à-têtes behind the curtain of the blogging stage. Having got to know Claire through her blog and privately via email, I hoped that one day we might work together. I had imagined a picture book or maybe Claire might do the cover of a novel… it seemed a long way off but certainly not out of the realms of possibility. Imagine my joy then, when at the end of last year my publisher at HarperCollins (also a fan of Loobylu) suggested we ask Claire to illustrate all three of my Tan Callahan books! It was a no-brainer, dear reader. I couldn’t say Yes! quickly enough.
It has been an exciting, inspiring and sometimes hilarious time as images and words fly around between Melbourne, Sydney, and the Pacific Northwest. We still haven’t settled on the final cover for book one—there are simply Too Many Choices. But because you are all my favourite cyber-people I am sharing this Secret Glimpse of our resulting collaborations (and Claire’s big-hearted, quirky talent). It has been a blast, dear reader, and I have enjoyed every moment.
If you are an aspiring writer or illustrator, I do strongly suggest that you take up blogging. There are so many advantages but, at the risk of sounding sentimental, the most satisfying has to be Connection and Friendship. That is why I bother. xx