When I was three years old, there was a grocery store near my house called Super Duper. One day, I went with my grandmother to pick up food, and I saw a cardboard stand stuffed with teddy bears. She told me I could pick one out, and I chose a brown fluffy bear with a red bowtie. His name was Honey-Jo.
From that moment on, we were inseparable. As a child with no pets, he became my best friend and closest confidant. I slept with him every night, and played with him every day. On my birthday, he would make me cards and leave them on my bed (yes, I’m aware that was actually my dad making them on his work computer, I’m not crazy.)
When I got older and having a teddy bear became “childish,” I refused to give in. In fact, he still resides in my bed some 33 years later, and Hubs is always sure to pick him up if he falls on the floor, or give him to me to snuggle when I’m sick. His bowtie is gone and his fur is matted after a thousand washes. He is likely my prized possession, and when I die, he will be cremated with me. Seriously.
I wrote a story about him. A poem, actually, that I decided to turn into a children’s book. I have never written such a thing, and when the idea struck, I penned the whole story in one evening. Then I put it away for about 8 years. One day last year, I pulled it from the recesses of my word files and polished it up, just for fun. Then I thought, hey, why not give it a real go?
I went to Twitter in search of artist suggestions. Knowing nothing about illustrations, I inquired as to how someone could find an illustrator on a budget, or even for free. The free bit caught me some flack because one chick got up in arms about paying for work flat out. I don’t think she understood the point of my post-I was looking for collaboration, not free art. I would never just write someone a story for free unless they were friend or family, but I would definitely collaborate with someone on something that could make money down the road. Anyway, Twitter is where I found the very talented Mr. Darell Teague.
A big believer in art for everyone, he offered to work on the book for free, understanding my need for a collaborator. I sent him a page by page idea of what I was looking for, and he got back to me with some wonderful sketches. Now, it’s been a couple months as he has other projects he is working on, but I am fine with waiting because I appreciate his view on art for art’s sake. I mean, I write in this blog twice a week, and I’m not making a dime off it. I understand the perspective.
I’m of the mind, you see, that a true artist cannot NOT make art, and share it with the world, regardless of payment. I have been paid for very little that I have worked on artistically. I am still hoping for my first real paycheck for writing, but I am not deterred by rejections and road blocks. I have been published many times, and that is exhilarating in itself, because I do it for the readers, not the money. You want money? Get a day job. Hone your art at night, so that one day it will be profitable.
My big dream is to finish my little kids’ book and have Darell illustrate it, and then find a publisher. It’s a long and arduous process, but I am looking forward to it nonetheless. I want kiddos to read it and look at the pictures and be taken to a dream world like I was with picture books as a child. And if we make some money off it, all the better.