Saturday, July 31, 2010

Loren Long Saturday Breakout: The Illustrator Who Writes

Loren's session was the perfect session for any illustrators who are waylaid with doubt about whether they are cut out to be writers, too. Loren is a charming speaker, kind of like my uncle. I think it's safe to say he is avuncular. Below are some quips and simple tips from Loren.

Loren's evolution as a writer: "I knew I had ideas, but I realize now that I do have a voice, and I am good at writing. It's taken me a while to get that quiet confidence."

He mentioned his first job, illustrating the cover for Gail Carson Levine's book, and how he's still not sure if he could write an entire novel, but he definitely understands the work and crafting it takes to make a story like that. Loren thinks the same qualities of a good novel are found in a good picture book.

Loren spoke briefly of his publishing track record and had great, glowing art slides.

"When nobody knew my work, they teamed me up with the writer Angela Johnson, who already had a name in the field and was successful. It gives all the bookstores, libraries, and schools across the country something to hang their hat on, something they knew they could sell. TOY BOAT was the same way in reverse, a brand new writer with a so-called seasoned illustrator."

"After illustrating nine books that others wrote, I began to WANT to write."

"It is enough for me, by the way, to just illustrate other people's stories. I was put on this planet to illustrate children's books and there are so many great stories in the world. I don't think there's anything wrong with just illustrating other people's stories."

Loren admitted most of his first story ideas were bad. Or nothing more than titles. Or just beginnings without endings and vice versa. He doubted his abilities, but Loren paraphrases Avi by way of Jon Scieszka, "If you want to write children's picture books, you shouldn't take a year off to write, you should take a year off to read."

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