Book-in-a-Year: Foreword

WorldBookDay_72dpiIt’s nearly two weeks now since I made the bold declaration that I was going to write (and draw) a book in year. The circumstances surrounding this moment of inspiration/madness are as follows:

Having woken up stupidly early in the morning on Thursday 7th of March and been unable to return to my slumber, I had resorted to drinking tea and perusing Twitter, whereupon I discovered that Thursday 7th of March was, in fact, World Book Day. This is the day when everybody everywhere reads books. You can barely move for books. Some people read Kindles, but they are frowned upon on such a day. Some people read comics and they are frowned upon every day, because comics are crass and for children and nerds. All the cool people read proper grown-up books like ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. But I digress…

Ace photographer¬†Amanda Ratcliffe had sent me a link to Neil Gaiman’s inspirational speech to graduates at the University of the Arts and I had watched it the day before. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. Not until you’ve finished reading this, obviously, so I’ll post the link at the end. It’s not World Book Day and I know how fancy moving images with sound are a lot easier than actual reading. So, suitably inspired and sleep-deprived I decided that in order to actually make a start on the book I’ve wanted to write for about fifteen years (and spent three years at art school learning as much as I could about how to), I would blab about it to the whole world (or rather 358 members of it at the time of tweeting). I said I would write a book, in a year, to be finished by World Book Day 2014.

This had a very strange effect: some people took me seriously. They ‘favourited’ the tweet, possibly to be used in evidence against me at some point in the future. They asked what the book was about. And, most valuably of all, they offered me encouragement.

I am hoping that by a series of weekly-ish posts about how the book is progressing, I can actually build and maintain momentum and either succeed in my mission or fail gloriously in a ball of flames. Either way, I will learn loads of new things – ¬†some of which I know I need to learn and some about which I am presently utterly clueless. I will be drawing on all that stuff I learned at art school about narrative structure and pacing and layout (not literally – I’ll probably be drawing on blank sheets of paper) and trying to forget all that stuff I learned about procrastination. I will be referring constantly to the essential ‘Understanding Comics’ and ‘Making Comics’ by Scott McCloud. I will finally get around to reading Will Eisner’s books on the subject. I will be reading loads. I will also be doing loads. And making mistakes, which will make me better at what I do.

The thing I hope to keep in mind throughout all of this is that the process of creating is the thing I love. I’ve always loved drawing and I’ve always loved writing. And, outside of school, I’ve always loved learning. That’s the reward – getting to do what I love. Anything else is a bonus.

So far I have a cast, a skeleton plot, and ‘Act I’ storyboarded. Next time I shall tell you about those – I also have to figure out how much to reveal without giving away too many ‘spoilers’. There will be posts about all kinds of stuff, including techniques, sample art, musings on the creative process and details of my negotiations with multi-national publishing giants as I play them off against each other. All I will reveal for now is that the book is about a little girl who meets an eight-legged pirate clown and they have adventures. They do say ‘write what you know’, after all.

If you have a spare half an hour, watch (and more importantly listen to) Neil Gaiman here. Be inspired.


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