Feb 17, 2014

On writing and drawing stuff that matters

   My wife Megan is a writer. A damn good one at that. Last year we decided that we have been foolish to not collaborate on something together, pooling our efforts. It became obvious that we were both passionate about picture books and the story telling possibilities that we could tap into; the merger of visual storytelling and words is really thrilling to a couple of book nerds like us (moving is a pain in the ass in this family).

At the very inception of this collaboration i've had to do some serious soul searching about the kind of work I want to commit to. Having a baby will do that to you, it casts a harsh light onto your actions, framing them into the context of some future narrative that will take on it's own life in the mind of your child. You don't want to fuck around with that narrative. Your actions take on a lot more meaning and doing things because they are "cool" just doesn't seem like a very good reason to do anything.

So then theres our picture book. Megan and I agree that we are writing a book about the outsiders, the kids that want more out of life but aren't quite sure how to get it.

That description applies to the majority of the hispanic kids in this country right now. Kids that like me, are immigrants to this country who look to this culture to provide markers and cues as to how they fit in, cues that are not present in the tv shows, movies and, more importantly, the books they love. These kids are in a lot of ways left on their own to figure out and navigate an often actively hostile world.

But here is the thing: it also applies to little girls in Ohio who are not seeing strong female characters who are good at math and like Transformers.

It probably applies to you.

Diversity is a really loaded word, conjuring up shrill left /right political posturing. But the truth is that an increase in diversity only helps us to see deeper into ourselves as a people, acknowledging the similarities and differences that we all share.

I am really honored to have been awarded the Yuyi Morales Merit Scholarship by Hummingbird Literary thats allowing me to participate in an online workshop on writing picture books. They are really committed to increasing diversity in the field of children's publishing, which as it stands is in bad shape.

The more specific your story gets the more universal it gets. It's some sort of alchemical rule. Proven over and over.

Megan and I are working on getting this story really specific.


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