You know what this blog is like to me? A friend. A friend that I’m really bad at keeping in touch with and never get around to seeing, but when we catch up again then it’s like nothing ever changed. I miss writing. I mean, I write for a living – but I miss writing here. I write for clients, other blogs and websites and I recently finished my first children’s book called The Silly Adventures of Buttons and Honey. I’m officially an author, and it blows my mind.
I have to tell you about the book first, though. About 5 or 6 years ago I started telling my kids these sweet little bedtime stories. You know when your kids are in bed and you’ve re-read all their books a hundred times? And you don’t even want to switch the lights on to find a reading option because, my God, that might wake them up all over again? I wish I knew the exact date or year that I made these characters up, because it’s literally their birthday and I just have no idea.
I created these characters called Buttons and Honey. They’re brother and sister bunnies who live in Bunny-Land, under a big apple tree. When I think about the sh*t that I made up I find it incredibly hard to believe that I’ve never taken drugs. I really haven’t. When you read the books one day you might suspect this, but seriously… I’m clean, you guys.
Buttons and Honey basically push boundaries. Instead of parents restricting you to one glass of Nesquick, these bunnies’ parents filled an entire swimming pool with Nesquick. And sweets. So it’s not “Alice in Wonderland” or anything like that. It’s more… Richard Scarry meets Beatrix Potter and Julia Donaldson. I have made up dozens of Buttons and Honey stories over the years.
A few months ago, I finally got the courage to actually write them down. I was laying in bed really late at night and I kept telling myself that I need to get around to it… to these books that I want to write. I guilted myself and then I had a super hard conversation with myself. The inner guilt-trip switched to motivation and I thought you know what? I’m just going to get out of bed RIGHT NOW and do it. The whole house was asleep and I was so tired, but I sat writing until the early hours (at least 2 or 3am or later) until I had all three of my favourite books penned.
Over the following couple of weeks, I’d gathered Theodore Key (the most incredible illustrator) and I spent so many wintery afternoons sitting in the sunroom at our Stanford house, putting the layout together. I can’t draw (at all) but I managed to shape the book into a 32-page layout, and off Theo went to bring Bunny-Land to life. There have been so. many. tears. I cried, cherished and celebrated every single step.
I got the most phenomenal literary agent (Catrina) and we signed contracts and put some legal things together. My designer, Colin put it all together and on my 35th birthday – I printed the very first Buttons and Honey book. Having that (and a bottle of Moët) in my hands was definitely one of the proudest moments of my life.
Writing a children’s Picture Book is much, much harder than I imagined it. Honestly, it’s so difficult, time-consuming, meticulous and expensive (if you’re paying for artwork). You don’t need to submit illustrations for picture book consideration (to publishers) but I wanted to do it for myself and for my kids. I was so proud to show them that mommy finally did it. I definitely think that I’ll stick to picture books, as YA (young adult) is so saturated and daunting for me. I think I’d rather leap to an autobiography one day, as I write very easily in this narrative.
What I HAVE discovered is an incredible, supportive, informative, encouraging, friendly and kind community of writers on twitter. Honestly, I have learned more about the world of publishing by following a few key authors, agents, illustrators, editors and publishers than I could have imagined. I’ve also reached out to local authors for support and the amount of gracious love and kindness that I’ve received has surpassed all the expectations I didn’t even have.
I’ve also learned that I need to keep blogging. I need to keep this narrative and my own inner protagonist going so that my craft stays fresh. I need to keep writing, communicating and surrendering my thoughts to typeface. I’ve realised that I’ve always lived in Bunny-Land and every step I’ve taken in my writing career (from poetry and anthologies of verse to gossip mags. From parenting blogs to news writing, press releases, social media content and lifestyle communication) has shaped and nudged my talents into various directions that all either hit the end of the stream of made me run out of steam. I either hit a brick wall or got gloriously bored. But not this. This is different, and I can feel it in every stroke of the keys, in every new rhyme, every furious scribble and I can see it in every illustration.
To quote my favourite lyric in one of my favourite musicals (The Greatest Showman): This is me.