Wednesday, July 6, 2016

When life gets in the way... by Barbara DiLorenzo

A year ago, I was a workhorse. I'd wake up and get my son to school by 7am, drink my coffee, then dive into drawing and painting. Some days were interrupted by teaching or other social obligations. But I was dogged in my determination to bring my picture book projects to publication. I'd post sketches and paintings-in-progress on social media. I was proud of my productivity. A year ago, I had sold my first book, and was about to embark on a research trip to Italy. My life was solid. My determination to reach my career goals, unshakeable.

But then, in the fall, my husband of 15 years and I decided to part ways. Although the build-up to this decision was logical, and we truly did exhaust all our options, we ended up vowing to remain friends and cooperatively parent our amazing son. Despite the amicable nature of our separation–this took the stuffing out of me. And him. I stopped drawing for awhile. I stopped answering emails or posting on social media. I didn't want to face people. I didn't know how to navigate this new territory, other than putting one foot in front of the other, taking care of my son and showing up to teach my art classes.

The late fall and holiday season were sad for me. But even in that dark time, I found comfort in loved ones–and enormous joy that my debut picture book, RENATO AND THE LION, was suddenly moving forward. The book had been in a holding pattern of sorts, which had made me wonder if it would ever come to light. At my most depressed point, I suddenly felt buoyed that this project was indeed, alive.

The publishing team had approved the text, and asked me for rough thumbnails. What would normally take two days of solid effort–took me over a month. Despite my excitement for the book, the impact of a pending divorce had slowed me down mentally. I had to get my sh*t together, or I'd risk losing my lifelong dream of creating a book–a book with a story that I love.

The team at Viking was gracious, and didn't say anything about my delay. Instead, they brought me in to discuss edits to help me proceed to the next stage. Their suggestions were smart and helpful, and I was excited to be back on track. I worked like a dog for a week and a half to produce more refined sketches, and was proud to turn them in. Currently, we are at an exciting point in the book production–with the deadline for final art approaching in September. And now, I am working at an efficient, effective pace again.

I am grateful to my loved ones and to the publishing team that believes in my book. Their faith in me, especially during a dark time, has lit the path to help me find my way back–back to my normal, workhorse flow.


Illustration Blog: Paint & Paper
Follow me on Twitter: @wavepaint

21 comments:

  1. You know I have been a huge fan of this project from the beginning! I'm so happy that you have gotten through the rough patch and came out on the other side raring to go!! This project needs to be out there. Missed you!<3

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  2. Thank you so much Deb. I really appreciate the critique group not giving up on me while I went dark. You guys are all so awesome, and I love you all.

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  3. it may take me some time to do it, but I will write you a note.
    We talked a lot last year in preparation for my show at 12 Farms, and I miss that.

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    1. I would love that! Maybe we can sketch and talk!

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  4. I'm so glad you're out of the tunnel, Barbara! Your drawing and paintings are breathtakingly beautiful. Your illustrations are funny and full of life. I know you're going to be immensely successfully. As hard as this past year has been, I imagine it will inform your writing and art at some point, when you need to pull from a dark spot to add depth to a story. I suppose every artist must go through one. So happy you survived and came out kicking!!!!

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    1. Thank you so much Virginia. To be honest, it's been fun watching you rise in your career, and gives me motivation to keep working my hardest. You have done so much, and accomplished so much, in a short period of time. I'm so proud of you! Hugs, b.

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  5. So many thoughts occur reading this, but mostly, so happy you are getting your groove back! Let's bring it!

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    1. I am really looking forward to playing SPOONS with you again! Little Rennie and I can't remember the rules!

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    2. I'm thinking the only rule is to have lots of brownies!

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    4. Love the Brownie Rule!
      Another good one is to proofread before hitting Publish rule.

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    5. Ha ha! You guys are funny. They were lime brownies, if I remember correctly.

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  6. Can't wait to see all of it come together Barbara! I am super eager to see your final art! Please let me know how many apple tarts you will need at your book opening- I am assuming a few hundred.
    We can learn a lot from picture books, and from creating them. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Love you chica! I think I need apple tarts to see me through the next two months of artmaking. :-) We need to get together soon!

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  7. Barbara, I'm so sorry to hear you went through such a difficult time. I have a good friend going through a divorce and I see how painful that is. You're so very talented! I can't wait to see your book when it hits stores!! I think it's great you're able to share your experience here. It's understandable you needed to slow down for a time. Best of luck now - Going going and going strong!!!!!!! ✨

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    1. Thank you so much Allyn. I hope your friend has a creative outlet to help her process her feelings. It helps so much! And awesome people like you!

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  8. YAY Barbara! So happy to hear that you've got your mojo back. Can't wait to see more of Renato!

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    1. Thank you Diana! I appreciate your support so much!

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  9. Congrats Kiddo... way to power through a difficult time.. May the future be easier and better.

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