I’m often asked about my process as an artist. Ditto as a writer. So today I’ll discuss how they intertwined in one of my books, Sprinkling Faerie Dust on Breakfast.
Parents had told me about their hard time finding life tools for their kids to deal with our crazy world, e.g., school cliques, as well as an earth spirituality worldview that would also help their kids with such challenges. As part of this, the parents wanted simple relevant magics for their children.
So I decided to write a book to cover all that. But when choosing what sort of book to write, I try to make it as multifaceted as possible so that it is of maximum use. I spend a lot of time meditating on the best approach, as well as brainstorming with friends.
This led me to think about many parents being overly busy. I decided the book should be a 365: Parents could do just a tiny bit each day, which is a manageable way to teach earth-spirituality, life tools, and simple magics.
The next challenge was how to make this book concise but still deep and relevant. Coming up with life tools for children is no small undertaking.
More meditation led me to remember that one of my creative blocks is not recognizing what I’ve already accomplished and instead thinking I have to start all over. I remembered I’d already spent years creating life tools and a grounded philosophy, and also endlessly boiling down those sophisticated concepts into short accessible phrases. I love ideas and words-smithing!
It may seem odd that all the work I’d done did not come to mind initially. But, like I said, forgetting what I’ve already done is a creative block I have.
Mind you, I still needed to do an immense amount of writing, but some rough material already existed.
From what I’ve written above, you can see an important part of my creative process is taking my time. That allows things to develop fully.
In fact, another step was that my really high ideals gave me a nagging feeling I could add even more value to the book.
Continued meditation and brainstorming with parents made me see another pivotal support my friends needed: I wanted the book’s daily entries to nurture their offspring while simultaneously giving daily spiritual nurture to the parents.
Yup, this book needed to be complex yet easy and accessible.
At which point I realized the text would be great for ANY way-busy person who wants magical, loving days. Hence the last part of the book’s title. Here is the full title:
Sprinkling Faerie Dust on Breakfast: A Daily Reader for Busy Parents and Their Children . . . and for Any Way-Busy Person.
(The daily entry is usually brief—often only a sentence or two. And hence the front cover’s tag line: “Spiritual reading that fits into your day.”)
Patiently allowing things to develop, so I could bit by bit develop a vision of the project (and following through by working my butt off, LOL) resulted in a book I can be proud of.
I should add that self-publishing the book allowed me to make it truly multifaceted. Though I have been blessed that major houses and other established houses have published some of my very complex books, they have rejected twice as many as they accepted. I even got a rejection letter that said, “This book is too multifaceted. We could never get our executives to market it.” (I framed the rejection.)
Next, let’s look at where visual art wove into Sprinkling Faerie Dust on Breakfast. I wanted this book’s visual sensibility to suggest an ancient text discovered in a forgotten attic (but with a modern revisioning), so the pages would convey magic not just through their words but through their looks.
I love mystical, archaic texts, with their differently sized and shaped black-and-white ornamentations. I didn’t want my book to have the modern look of all identical pages or pages whose graphics always fit the same space. I wanted the old-fashioned look of each page being different.
So I learned to do layout and painted ornamentation for almost every page, all my original art. The ornamentations are different shapes and sizes. For each to fit into its page and to give each page a different feel, I had to lay out most pages individually.
It was a lot of work but it felt really important. I’d taken enormous care with the book’s text, honing concepts and language for years, and felt the book’s visual aspect should mirror that, and add another dimension of care, love, and magic to the project.
Also, both the title Sprinkling Faerie Dust on Breakfast and a daily mystical reading imply that spirituality and magic are part of life, not separate. I wanted the visual look of the book to convey that integration, because some folks learn from images, not just from words. The integration of lessons that fit gently into your day, instead of lessons that propose an unrealistic amount of spiritual and magical progress, allow us to actually move ahead and make positive changes.
One of the great things about taking a lot of effort with a project is that you learn a lot. You always keep growing.
Having learned so much about layout and ornamentation from doing Sprinkling Faerie Dust on Breakfast, I’m self-publishing another book soon which I’ve been able to ornament far more elaborately and in full color. I am really jazzed about the magical power of its ornamentation.
Sprinkling Faerie Dust on Breakfast is for pagan family reading, UUs, and alternative thinkers.
Please let me know what you think about this post.