Ten years ago I started this blog to chronicle my journey towards being published as an illustrator of a trade picture books. Happily that dream came true in 2014 with two books published in 2015 and 2016.
But 2016 was not a great year in other ways. We started the year with Jim Dear’s job being outsourced. Overnight our income was cut in half and we lost our health insurance. Suddenly the 2016 I’d planned was gone. Jim Dear and I had agreed that in 2016 I would let go of some of my non-illustration freelance in order to focus on my picture book dummies with the intention of subbing to agents in late 2016. I’d planned a 6 month long ‘sabbatical’ where I would only do illustration and then would emerge with a new body of work. Yes doing that would have changed our income as well, but not quite as dramatically as Jim Dear losing his job. Instead of my blissful submersion in illustration we were piecing together health insurance, rearranging our schedules so I could work more instead of less, and trying to put on a brave face for our kids while simultaneously telling them “no we can’t send you to that expensive overnight Star Wars camp.” I know, I know #firstworldproblems.
Ten months later, I’m happy to report Jim Dear did get another job back in his field. That’s the good news, the less than great news is that it comes with a 90 minute commute. For the moment we are managing it. . . but the Fry and Sprout barely get to see their dad. Ironically we’ve gone from lots of extra family togetherness during Jim Dear’s unemployment to very little. We love our neighbors and our community and don’t want to go through the upheaval of moving… yet. The other good news is that, while I didn’t get my sabbatical, I did complete two new picture book dummies. To quote a Neil Gaiman-Proverbs mash-up: “when life hands you lemons, make good art.”
My larger point is this: 2016 was full of real-life events that were way to complex to distill into a blog. When I started blogging I realized what it did was help me write on a regular basis. But even before last year’s events I had already been spending less and less time conjuring posts. Now when I have writing time I want to spend it on stories and nothing else. When time became an even more precious resource last year I realized that social media was a much more efficient family-news delivery device that the blog was. And then, as the months passed, I went from thinking, ‘gosh its been weeks since I posted anything’ to ‘oh well, why start back now’ to ‘maybe it has run its course.’
After several nights of debating what do with my blog this year, I’ve decided to make it official. The Fabulous Illustrator is hanging up her blogger hat. It’s been fun and I’ll keep the posts archived but for the foreseeable future join me on Facebook and Twitter.