STORYSTORM 2019! Brainstorm, Play, and Ideas

Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm! Play, play, play! Ideas, ideas, ideas!

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These three core creative values pretty much sum up the heart of my creative process. They also sum up Picture Book Author Tara Lazar’s annual Storystorm Challenge, which I’ve participated in for many years.

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The Storystorm challenge (used to be called PIBOIDMO—picture book idea month) is a challenge on Tara’s blog where participants agree to come up with a new picture book idea every day for 30 days in a month. 30 ideas! In a month! Seems crazy at first. But no. It’s great. 

Because where do I get my best ideas? Out of a pile of terrible ideas. It’s true. Basically I get my best ideas by coming up with lots and lots of ideas, putting every idea into the pile, and then later worrying about whether they are any good or not. And that same basic concept has now extended into so many aspects of my creative process that I feel it somehow captures the entire spirit of writing and art for me.

My Bureau of Fearless Ideas shirt and my Field Guide To Fearless Ideas poster, both purchased at the  Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company  in Seattle, a storefront for the  Bureau of Fearless Ideas , a non-profit writing and tutoring center for kids.

My Bureau of Fearless Ideas shirt and my Field Guide To Fearless Ideas poster, both purchased at the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company in Seattle, a storefront for the Bureau of Fearless Ideas, a non-profit writing and tutoring center for kids.

So in the spirit of fearless ideas, here I am this past week wearing my Bureau Of Fearless Ideas shirt next to my Field Guide To Fearless Ideas poster, (purchased here, more info in the caption). And why am I wearing my BFI* shirt? Because STORYSTORM = FEARLESS IDEAS! And it’s that time of year. I’ve just finished up 2019’s challenge and I’m celebrating all the ways ideas, brainstorming, and play make my art better.

This past year I signed a contract for my first PB after working at it a looooong time. And THE ELEPHANT HIDE-AND-SEEK HANDBOOK (scheduled for release from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in 2020) was definitely born from this process.

So cheers to fearless ideas and fearless brainstorming! And a big shout-out and thank you to Tara for all she’s done for the writing and illustrating community over many years!

THANK YOU TARA!

The bumper sticker on my car. Bought it at  Wild Play  zipline course on Vancouver Island, BC. Pertains to art and writing too.

The bumper sticker on my car. Bought it at Wild Play zipline course on Vancouver Island, BC. Pertains to art and writing too.

*BFI = Bureau of Fearless Ideas, a real place. It’s a tutoring center for kids. But they also have cool shirts and posters. And in Seattle they have a Space Travel Supply Company. So that’s awesome.

Grateful for the life of Mary Oliver

The first time I read a Mary Oliver Poem, I was visiting my mom at her college, while I was also in college. Even if I missed our house, the one mom had sold and left for her new career adventure in middle age, we’d moved so many times when I was young, I’d done this before, I could do it again. Home probably could be wherever there were people I loved. But. It was my last semester at school and it had been a difficult few months—I was struggling to let go of a very unhealthy relationship, perfectionism and anxiety raged. I didn’t know how to give myself permission to do the things I knew were calling my name. I didn’t know where I belonged. Still, visiting mom felt like soup on a sick day. I could breathe again. I felt a little more well. And there in the “kitchen” of my mom’s cramped student-housing apartment, I think under a magnet on the waist-high mini-fridge, was a poem. Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.

As far as I was aware it was the first time in my then 23 years that I’d read anything by Mary Oliver. When mom wasn’t looking, I copied the poem to take with me. I love my mom to pieces but it’s hard to talk about hard things. I didn’t want to talk about how that poem made me feel—the same feeling of exhale I felt by visiting mom, actually. It was permission to not be perfect or have the answers and still love life anyway, all in a poem, and in a visit to my beloved mother.

My life is better because of the words Mary Oliver shared with the world and now has left behind—not just that one poem, but so many I’ve fallen in love with since.

Thanks for your words and life Mary. I’m so grateful you were here among us sharing them for so long.