Hey guys! Celeste, here.
I’ve been working really hard on making a real copy of Sailing Le Cirque…. by completely ignoring it.
I used to berate myself for going through these periods, but now I understand that this is part of my process. It’s like leaving a plot fallow for one season. Do it, and the next season is bountiful. Skip it, and watch the harvest deteriorate.
The other reason I’m leaving it alone is because I’m on fire with another project, the series that I outlined months ago. I’ve even written the first page. The first page guys!
This is a big deal for me. I know every writer works differently, but for me, it goes something like this:
More character builiding
Dabble in scenes at my whim
Obsession to the end
So you see why I’m so excited. But don’t worry about SLC, it’s more of a craft project at this point, so it will get air time when I need a mental break from my wordy world.
Plus, I read it to aloud to my daughter on Saturday (reading aloud is the ultimate test for editing) and it felt long and laggy in some spots. She loved the snack man, so I’m glad I added it back in, but some other lines might will have to go.
Since the pages will be handmade, I’m not trying to make unnecessary pages so I will be deciding what lines can go based on two criteria.
1. Does it interfere with the pace of the story? Will it bore or lose a group of children during storytime? It goes.
2. Will it be hard for me create the illustration for this line? Will the materials for this illustration be too expensive, bulky or complicated? This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.
It will go back to the drawing board first. Can I work with a different material? Can I interpret the scene in a different way? Or can it join another line that’s already illustrated? If it still refuses to cooperate, then sorry, buddy, we tried.
When I make more progress on either book, I will be back with another post.
For now, I recommend indulging in a snack platter and The Goonies, pronto.
This was all my daughter’s idea.
“Mommy would you like to join us for The Goonies? Not because it’s spooky.”
“Oh yeah? That sounds good.” I go into the kitchen thinking of bringing a snack and she says, “And I was thinking that mushroom cheese with crackers?”
Kid has mind-fi. Or she’s my clone.
Hey guys! I might have thought I was done writing about and working on Le Cirque, but boy was I wrong. Not only am I in the process of making a real hold-it-and-flip-its-pages book, but apparently I am also writing a follow up. Oh yes, the other night the beginnings of Le Cirque Part Duex came to me. But it came at the most inopportune time, let me tell you…
He’s part of a team, he’s part of a crew
It feels like family, like a dream come true…
Ooh, I think to myself, there’s that line again. ‘Feels like family’ that’s good, that wasn’t there last time.
I reach for my notebook to make sure I catch it before it slips away again. This movement interrupts my husband’s monologue.
“…so you can do it, but if you get the wires wrong, it will never work aga- what’re you doing?” He asks as I flip the notebook open.
I added an exclamation point. Le Cirque has eight exclamation points, which is rather a lot, but they are only in instances where people are shouting things, I swear. But it’s a circus, so you know, lots of people are shouting things.
Progress On The Book
If an art journal and a picture book had a baby, it would be this book. That’s really the best way to describe it. I’m not that great at drawing or painting or graphic designing so none of those are an option to make this book into a reality. I am pretty obsessed with collages though, so I am going to stick to what I know.
As I mentioned before, I’ve come up with a plan and even tested out a few ideas by making an art journal.
I also found a binder and paper to serve as the base for this project in the back of my closet. Score!
I will share more in a future post, but for now I can tell you that I completed the concept for the cover and even brainstormed a few of the simpler pages. I am a little intimidated to portray figures like the the Snack Vendor or Mario, but I have a few tricks to get around it. I’m sure once I get going it will all start coming together,
I’ll keep you updated!
What about you? How do you work on your writing projects? Does anyone else like blending creative projects with their writing or is that just me waving my freak flag?
According to my own research, there aren’t any animals on Le Cirque. So why would cages and trainers be exiting the ship? Exactly.
The line had to go.
I loved this line, so instead of trying to figure something out, I shut the computer and tried to put it out of my mind. I know from watching Inside Out the other day that the line must have been dragged into my subconscious, because, “that’s where they take the trouble makers.”
After two days of supposedly not thinking about it, I was in that deliciously hazy place just before sleep, when this line swam to mind and I thought
I really like it because it breaks up the a/b rhyme scheme.
Eyes still shut, but the haze lifted.
Yeah, and it’s similar to dance/prance and draft/waft.
Eyes popped open. Notebook did too.
Scrawled the line across the page. Added a few words from a dead line on top
stands/band The trunks, the cages, the trainers, the stages
Fiddled and sighed and scrunched up my eyes, then quickly merged them to form a new line (yeah I know it rhymes, sorry, once I get going…).
The trunks, the stands, the dancers, the band
I thought man, that was easy, what was I so afraid of? and I shut off the light.
Hey, I’m back. It’s been a crazy good week. My best friend of 15 years (!) came to visit. I haven’t seen her in years, so it was good to catch up, even though we email and talk and text fairly regularly. I feel like you can just get into deeper and more meaningful conversation in person, you know?
So I thought I would share a few things that didn’t make it into Sailing Le Cirque. Like I mentioned in this post, I find the process behind a story really interesting, and that is why I decided to share
Though every line was changed, many, many times, there were a few that were cut out completely. This set
Come one, come all, all ages delight
In the fun and fancy of this one magic night
because it was too cliche.
Caramel corn in paper cones
Funnel cakes you can’t eat alone
Turkey legs roasted on the bone
because after doing research, these foods would be hard to store and serve from a ship, even if its a magical one filled with circus folk.
And Other Things
The other things I refer to here are the animals. Le Cirque carries only human performers. In early drafts, I planned to have animals as part of the show, but after doing research, I did away with the whole concept. Between animal cruelty issues and the impracticality of having animals living on a boat, it just made more sense. And, this decision gave way to my favorite line
Then they dance, they prance, pull tricks, entrance,
Make fire burn, stand on their hands
so it was a good choice.
Check out this post if you want to read a little more about the cutting process of this story. And to read all about Sailing Le Cirque, check out these 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 posts. The next (and possibly final) post about Sailing Le Cirque will be to share any new sketches I come up with.
But before I go I wanted to share this Florida weather report.
I promised progress! I spent some time looking around online and created a board on pinterest to collect some images I thought might help me in the next step of this project, which is to visualize how the text might work with the illustrations to tell a more complete story.
I also love the idea of a story book with coloring pages as the art, that would be fun to explore! Maybe a wipe off version vs a paper version though, so kids can read/color it over and over.
I also love stickers that can be colored in. Those are so muh fun that I may have borrowed a page of them from my daughters to decorate the inside cover of my latest journal. I bet that would be another great way for kids to interact with the book.
I found this article on how to draw a pirate ship, so I might use it to get some practice before I try my hand at Le Cirque again.
This dreamy art is a handmade piece I found on etsy. This is how I imagine the lines
leaving as they arrived
With sails slipping by
in the darkness of night
I love the lines, the colors and the way the boat looks like it’s folded out of paper. Maybe a paper boat wouldn’t quite work for this story, but the whimsy is there.
This is how I imagine the performers of Le Cirque might impress their audience with the lines
then they dance, they prance, pull tricks, entrance
Make fire burn, stand on their hands
The tightrope in particular I pictured strung up between two masts, but after reading about how seasickness is amplified up there and that sailors were often sent up to the crow’s nest as punishment, I am reconsidering.
So I found this on Pinterest and of course it’s a dead link, but I love the action of this image. I can totally picture this as a point of view Mario might have in the final lines of the story
Mario, of the front center seat,
Sailing Le Cirque over waters so deep.
So these are a few ideas for how I might visualize some lines in this book. There are supposed to be waaay more illustrations in a picture book, but this is a good starting point for inspiration.
I don’t really fancy myself as an artist, but I’m compelled to at least give it a try so I can see Le Cirque to completion. Even though I am already working on another project and I don’t plan to query Le Cirque, I’m itching to see it as a more complete final draft. But more than anything else, I’m just dying to read it to the kids and for that I need a physical book. With pictures.
Awhile back I wrote about a writing project I was working on called Sailing Le Cirque (found here, here, and here) I promised to share it on the blog after I completed it.
Well, it still isn’t complete.
I reached a point where I felt like I had overedited it, and now it’s like there are holes in the story. Or maybe it’s tight and the holes were always there and I need to fill them. Maybe the addition of artwork would fill them.
Actually, I just thought of that as I write this post. What about the artwork? I almost laugh out loud at myself (but I won’t, because it’s naptime).
I came to this post thinking the next step is to ask someone’s advice, and it is, but before I do that, I will need to spend time thinking about the artwork and what part of the story the images might tell.
There is this piece of art that has been hanging around my house for years. My husband’s best friend gave it to us when he moved away.
And I hate it.
Not the actual art itself. It’s the color scheme. Matching it to anything in my house was impossible. So we painted the walls this orange color and I bought a gray and blue comforter hoping to tie everything together.
And it kinda worked. Except it turns out that the piece doesn’t hang well anymore so it fell off of three different walls before being shoved behind the sofa.
Months later, I stumble on it in one of those cleaning frenzies I get. I take it out and put it on my desk behind my monitor. I don’t know what compels me to put a piece of uninspiring art right in my face in my creative work space. It isn’t long before the cursor is blinking but I’m not.
That stupid picture.
I spy a Good Housekeeping magazine on my desk. It makes me think of the mantra I adopted for this year: Good Things are Going to Happen. And true to my random self, I grab some scissors and some washi tape and add Good Things to the middle.
I smile. It already looks better.
It is not really that random for me to turn this into a collage. When I was in high school, I spent the better half of one summer papering an entire wall and half of two others with a collage clipped from my stack of Cosmos.
My mom walked in on me one day (as a teen, she rarely came in my room except to remind me to clean it) and saw that shit spreading across the walls. She dead stopped in the doorway and let out a strangled, “What are you doing?” I turned from my creation, staple gun in one hand, “I’m making a collage.” And my mom, bless her creative heart, she just blink-blink-blinked and left the room. (Thank you mom, for letting me be me!)
But a little washi tape collage is no big deal. Like my mom that day, my husband says nothing of my improvements to his friend’s canvas when he notices them.
So then a few weeks later, I want to add to the canvas, but I can’t find the washi tape.
So I glue my new pieces on.
Then I read this fantastic article and I am inspired to scrawl Write with Whimsy on the top corner with a Sharpie.
My husband comes home.
“You know Harv paid like $200 for this?”
I turn to look at him. Blink-blink-blink, “What?”
“Yeah, he and his roommate split it.”
I scoff at him. “Yeah right.”
My husband is a notorious exaggerator, but I google the artist anyway. I find her at Art.com. So I type in the size and…
But as I look up from the monitor at it, I don’t feel bad for it’s fate. On display with adjustments is better than stuffed behind a sofa. And if the point of art is to inspire someone, well then I say this piece is priceless now, because it inspires me every single day.
(I just want to mention that I really don’t have anything against this artist or her work. In fact, as I was hunting for the price tag, I noticed this piece, this piece, and especially this piece that I’d love to own by the exact same artist.)
Yes, its been ages. Where have I been? Wrapped up in my life, guys. The last few months have been bleak, challenging, and devasting, but I am grateful for how much I’ve grown, learned, changed and strengthened.
One of the questions I often bemoaned to God during this time was “Why?” I really didn’t understand.
And one day, as I took out the trash and bitterly wondered “Why?” again, God sent me a sign.
There in the grass, in my path, was a perfect, gray feather. I had just read about feathers as signs the night before and the sight of one just as that question formed in my mind illicited a gasp.
I bent over to pick up the feather, and it had a perfect quill tip. For a writer like me, the message couldn’t have been more clear.
“Why, Celeste? Because you are to write.”
That message stopped my bitterness right in its tracks. And again, I appreciated the irony, because I had been asking for motivation and inspiration to write, and oh, did He give it to me in spades. In painful, painful spades.
It never looks like you thought it would.
But I always try to look at the plus side of any situation, and not only have I come out stronger on the other side of this, but I have a sheaf of 35 poems that I wrote during that dark time.
And these poems, maybe I will never publish them or even show them to anyone (or heck, even read them again- so much pain) but they mean something. They are special. Because they showed me that even in times of great pain, I am a writer. They showed me that writing is more than just a thing I want to do, it is part of what I am.
I am a writer. Maybe I need more practice, more experience, more time. But I am a writer. I will never doubt that again. This pain taught me that. And that makes it beautiful. That makes it worth it.