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Seize the Clay

I read a post the other day from a teacher who said the reason his students often delay finishing a project is to delay judgment of the final product.

I feel seen.

I've been working on resurrecting an old manuscript for some time now. (It was actually published years ago, but then the publisher went out of business, and with it, the story.)

Okay. Full disclosure. I've been thinking about resurrecting this old manuscript. And thinking. And thinking...

But thinking wasn't getting it done. Thinking wasn't the same as putting pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard. So, a couple of weeks ago, I revised the manuscript and shared it with my brilliant critique group. They offered invaluable suggestions. I sheared 200 words off the original and (I hope/believe) made it even more dynamic and emotional.

And then, I began to work on the illustrations. Okay, full disclosure once again: I'd been trying to work out details for the characters without much success for some time. It wasn't lost on me that this may have been an effective method of procrastination. (See above explanation detailing why some people delay finishing a project.)

I sighed and stared at my shoes. Just do it, they said.

Agreed. It was time to get out of my own head...and start working on the heads of my characters.

I decided to go back to the 'old' drawing board - a sketchpad with a number two pencil. And this grumpy old neighbor, whom I kinda fell in love with, appeared.

You may notice that I drew light horizontal lines coming from her face. This is to keep her characteristics consistent, recognizable in each illustration. (There were several other accompanying sketches, including front, side, and three-quarter view.) But try as I might, I was having trouble with her profile...until (cue inspirational music) I shared my issue with the fabulous author-illustrator Julie Downing. She suggested I replicate the character's face in clay, so I could turn it and not only see her actual profile, but also see the play of light and shadow on her features!

Mind blown. (And it was really fun molding it!)

Have I mentioned how amazing teachers are?

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