One of the really lovely things about being an artist, whether you’re a visual artist, a musician, a writer or whatever, is that incredible excitement when you’ve finished something new. One of the truly bumming-out things about it is the inability to share what you’ve done.
Look, a few months ago I took one of my poems, The Goblin Baker, and did ten watercolours to illustrate it, then made it into a book. The original was a gift for my great-nephew, Sam. He’s not even going to be aware of it for quite a while, but his parents were happy with it, and that was great. Then, because that’s the kind of person I am, I made a facsimile with photographs of the original watercolours so I could have a copy.
And then, because I’m an artist, and because I was so excited about it, I wanted to show it to everyone, yes, I did. And, you know, there’s a limit to the number of times you can buttonhole somebody and say, “Wanna see what I made?” I mean, most people will take it once or twice, but after that, they start to duck around corners when they see you coming.
Now, some of the people who saw it were very encouraging, impressed, even. They said things like, “You need to get this published!” But I wasn’t sure how, or where. Most of the picture-book publishers I know of want a) more than ten pages and b) no unsolicited manuscripts, thank you. And I find the traditional publishing process wearing enough just dealing with The Swan Harp and my short fiction. I don’t know if I want to get started on trying to push a picture book, too.
Then I heard about Patreon, a site where I can publish what I do electronically. Patreon runs on the patron design, the idea that artists are supported by people who enjoy their work, and, in return, those people get to see some very cool stuff that wouldn’t necessarily make it through the standard gates. Things like – oh, I dunno, The Goblin Baker.
I checked the site out, and I’m going to give it a go, see how it works for me. With the support, both moral and financial, of people who like my work, I can see how I’d be able to undertake some projects that, right now, I just can’t figure out how to do.
For example, I’d like to do some really elaborate pop-up books. The thing about those is, what I’m thinking of will take a lot of time, and isn’t exactly a production item. I can’t make a hundred, or even a dozen, in the time I have to do art, and then there’s marketing and all, and, after all, there are only twelve, so only twelve people are going to see it. But if I can do a video in which I read the story and turn the pages, I can show it to anyone who wants to see it. I can do it without buttonholing them, at a time that suits them, and they can look at it again if they want, whenever they want.
The more I thought about this, the more excited I got about it. I love telling stories, and most people I know love to be read to. Stories in the North, the literary festival in Thessalon, ran on exactly that premise, that people love to be read to. I remember Captain Kangaroo reading William Pene du Bois’s lovely story “Lion”, and the beautiful pictures on the screen. I remember listening to CBC’s late-night bedtime-story segment “Between the Covers”, and the novels I was introduced to through having them read to me.
So I’ve decided to try it. What the hey. I’m going to start it up on Hallowe’en, because that seems like a really good time to put up a story about a Goblin Baker. It’s going to be up there for everyone to see and hear, so you know what kind of work I do. Stop by, Patreon.com, Elizabeth Creith.
Look at what I made!