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Lewa Studio: Illustrator?

I am not a writer. I am not an illustrator. I barely can believe I am a painter sometimes. So, why am I starting a children's book, one of the most competitive publishing fields, you ask? Because I had an idea for one that I have not been able to stop thinking about!

Sidda and Ruble were playing a few months ago that inevitably turned into fighting. When I came in to try and referee, they had the silliest, most creative response that just tickled me. It tickled them too, and they both just started giggling more and more as they expounded on their response. As their laughter was building, I was envisioning their responses as paintings and imagery that told a story. I quickly opened my phone's notes app and jotted the idea down.

That little note plagued my mind until I conceded that this was something I should actually pursue. So on a lunch date with Kirk early December, I wrote out the basic plan for the book on a napkin. Kirk laughed at my hyper fixation as I continued to google on my phone basic info about how to write a children's book, taking notes on the napkins.

I still wasn't ready to full on commit though because while I had the visions for the paintings and backgrounds I wanted to paint for the book, I was terrified of having to illustrate people! As December went on, I started sketching little pencil sketches of Sidda and Ruble based on pictures on my phone. I still don't have the style I want for them completely down, but once I finished a handful of the sketches, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could do this.

I probably would have stayed in this stage for a few more months, or maybe even years. But when I needed to quit my job a lot more suddenly than we were thinking right before Christmas, the financial fear creeped in, the pressure to take Lewa seriously and not waste this time hit hard, and I knew I needed to run for Phase 3 Lewa in more ways than one. So I reached out to two people that I had a connection to that have published books right before Christmas and scheduled meetings with them after the holidays.

The holidays were like a breath of fresh air. Not completely easy and drama free. The ache I had to have the twins with us for Christmas hit me harder than I was expecting. But the time we had with our families and each other helped my perspective a lot. I really felt God assuring me that quitting my job was what He was wanting me to do. I remembered that He provides. Always. So, with some deep breaths, I took the pressure off of myself to run. But when that pressure was removed, I realized I WANTED to run. I still wanted to chase after my dream of printing from home and my dream of this children's book that still wasn't going away.

My first meeting with Fern Watt, author of Gizelle's bucket list, and Adventure Dogs, was so helpful. I was so honored she took the time to FaceTime with me and she gave me some great practical advice and tools, along with some encouragement after hearing my idea. I admitted that my biggest hang up so far was the actual writing part. And she replied with my favorite sentence she said in the whole meeting. "Just do the thing!"

Next, I met for coffee with Austin Church, author of Grabbling. And just like with Fern, I was so honored and humbled he took the time to meet with me. I hadn't met him prior to this meeting, we were connected by a mutual friend. But we realized that I do know his wife! He even has two of my paintings in his house! How wild. This meeting was so wonderful as well. Austin walked me through his story of what it was like to write and publish his children's book. He also gave me really practical suggestions and tips. But what impacted me the most was when he shared how God has used his book and is still continuing to use it. Our fellow patrons at Cultivate coffee probably thought we were so weird as we were both getting teary eyed at the stories he shared.

It made me realize that I really need to just do the thing! Part of what was holding me back wasn't just the fear of writing, but the fear of "what if this isn't successful"? "What if this is a waste of time?" But even if this book never makes a dime, what I really should be asking is "What if God can use this?" I feel the pull to do this project. What if God is wanting to use this? What a bummer if I turned away from it because I lack zero knowledge of publishing a children's book!

So here I am, inviting you on this journey with me! I have now written the first draft of the book and will be editing it with my friend Brooke next week. I'm going to be giving you all an update once a week here! Tune in to watch me fumble through all of the unknowns as we watch and see if this goes anywhere!

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