Last night, I saw a wonderful documentary called Library of the Early Mind. (Click on this link, to see a YouTube preview.) The movie is a kind of collage of various children's writers and illustrators talking about how and why they do what they do. Like everyone else in the auditorium at Selwyn House School, where the screening was held, I felt really inspired!
Though the room was dark, I couldn't resist scribbling down some notes for you, dear blog reader. (Also, it's true, for me, since the things I wrote down are all the things I want to remember and take comfort in as I do my own work.)
Author-illustrator Peter Reynolds described books for kids as "wisdom dipped in language." Mo Willems, who is one of my favourite author-illustrators, talked about how writing or drawing characters requires their creators to feel what those characters are feeling, and that the reader has a similar experience. As Willems put it, "If there's anything the world needs, it would be empathy."
Jane Yolen says she doesn't like when people describe her as prolific. In fact, she doesn't understand why other authors don't do even more writing: "these stories are leaking out of your fingers." I love that metaphor! I sure hope that today, the story I'm working on will leak out of my fingers -- and onto my keyboard, and then onto the screen!
But I was most moved by author-illustrator David Small's personal story. He talked about how, in mid-life, he needed to return to a difficult early experience and transform it into art. He explained how when he drew and wrote about the people who'd hurt him, that creative experience "made me see them more more as human beings and less like monsters."
So this morning, I'm feeling really grateful to the team of people who brought the film to Montreal, including Carol-Ann Hoyte; to the film's producers Edward Delaney and Steven Withrow (Delaney was there to answer the audience's questions after the screening); and to all the authors and illustrators and author-illustrators who shared their stories.
Try to see the movie, too!