Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Midbook Crisis
I met this shiny brand-new pencil in Costa. We doodled together. We doodled on napkins. We doodled on the back of receipts. We even doodled in the toilets on toilet paper. I knew it was wrong but it felt so right.
This was not the kind of pencil you would take to meet your agent or to an IBBY Conference. It had Hello Kitty on it. It was unpredictable and unruly. Not like my own pencil that practically draws itself. With this one, drawing every cat whisker, every penguin beak was a struggle but did I care.
We came out of the toilets to a sea of tut-tutting, eye-rolling customers, waiting to use the facilities. I dropped Hello Kitty off where I’d found it, next to a half empty or half full cup of latte on an unused table in a dark corner of the cafĂ©.
I went home and in an attempt to avoid my pencil I went straight to bed. I tossed and turned for hours. Was it the guilt that was not letting me sleep or the fact that it was only three o'clock in the afternoon? I’ll never know.
I spent the entire morning in G&D, casing the joint with a hot chocolate in front of me. Yesterday had been a spare of the moment thing. I had not planned it. Today was planned. I knew exactly what I was doing. I had even brought four sheets of gleaming white A4 paper in the anticipation of what was to come.
Word soon spread that the hot chocolate drinking black-haired person in the corner pays good gummy bear for a go on your crayon. Toddlers came to see me from all over. Soon I was swimming in drawing materials. And it was bliss even if I felt dirty. Many of the crayons were sticky with ice-cream and syrup.
When I got home I went straight into the shower. My pencil said nothing. We hardly ever speak any more.
As I came out of Broad Canvas, clutching tightly to my Where’s Wally bag heavy with Artist Quality Windsor and Newton watercolour sets, new paintbrushes and jewel encrusted sketchbooks, I bumped into a fellow illustrator. Our eyes met and he knew instantly something was not quite right.
‘What’s in the bag?’ he asked.
I shook my head, ‘Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to.’
‘OK,’ he said backing off with his palms out towards me in front of his chest in an attempt to calm me down, ‘take it easy.’
I relaxed a little then and loosened my grip on the bag. That was when he went for it. He snatched it right out of my hands.
‘Just as I suspected,’ he said looking inside, ‘You’re having a midbook crisis.’
‘I'm not!’ I yelled, going for my bag but he pulled it away. ‘Give that back!’ I yelled, ‘Can’t an illustrator treat herself to a few luxury items without being accused of going through a “midbook crisis”?!’
‘Listen to me,’ he said, ‘I'm trying to help you.’ He pulled off a gummy bear from my collar and held it in front of me. How could I have been so careless?
‘I've been down this road before,’ he said, ‘it begins with nasty, sticky crayons in ice-cream parlours and it ends in your agent and editor breaking down the door of a seedy motel in Paris and finding you with a half empty bottle of masking fluid, wearing nothing but tissue paper.’
I sighed and shook my head. ‘Down the rabbit hole,’ I said.
‘It was actually Green Eggs and Ham,’ he sighed, ‘I’d storyboarded the entire book straight onto the walls in day-glow paint.’
I nodded.
‘Go home,’ he said, ‘go to your own pencils and paintbrushes. Don’t give into your midbook crisis for it will swallow you whole.’