I love language with all the flow and rhythm of the river of words that when gathered and shaped and spoken become something more, something alive and powerful.
I was recently at Toppings and Company Bookshop in Bath for my brother-in-law Jack Wolf's fabulous reading, talk and book signing to launch his brilliant debut novel 'The Tale of Raw head and Bloody Bones' which deserves a special post all of its own (which will be coming up very soon!)
Its a real Aladdin's cave of beautiful, wonderful books and I came home with a small trove whilst looking back longingly at many others I would have loved to added to the pile... (to add to my ever growing collection here!)
One of those I came home with was Alan Garner's Collected Folk Tales in a beautifully decorated and gilded hard cover, a real treasure! The comment on the back cover by Philip Pullman says:
"The great collections of British folk tales such as this one, should be treated in two ways: first, they should be bound in gold and brought out on ceremonial occasions as national treasures; and second, they should be printed in hundreds of thousands, at the public expense, and given away free to every young teacher and every new parent."
But in the introduction Alan Garner says words that strike a resonating chord with me in all my love of language and stories. Of the folk tale he says:
"The real meaning is in the music; it is in the language: not phonetics, grammer or syntax, but pitch and cadence, and the colour of the word.
In this selection I have tried to get back, through the written word, a sense of the spoken. I have worked to recreate the moment of the telling, so that the printed word may sing."
Yes! I thought, exactly that!
Terri Windling on her blog Myth and Moor has been talking about Storytelling in a far more eloquent way than I and is always inspiring and thought provoking - a well of creativity for all lovers of words, art and story! Do go and have a read...
There is something about writing that I love so much. I often hear it as a trail of thought from another place, bringing with it scents and sounds and dreamlike bright or shadowy images. Very often in the past as now, I have written and illustrated in tandem - sometimes the words manifesting first to lead the image, and sometimes the imagery first, sometimes so vividly that all the words have left to do is describe the scene.
The story I am drawing a dummy book for at the moment arrived suddenly and very strong in its words, and I enjoyed the words so much for their own selves that even though it was always intended for a picture book, it stands alone, which I am pleased about.
I wish I could share this tale with you all, but I would really like to give this its best pitch to a publisher and don't want to scupper its chances... so not yet I'm afraid...
Instead I will show the you one of the double page spreads I have been drawing for the dummy book, sadly for now without the words which would sit on the empty right hand side of the drawing...
Here below is a detail of the top right corner...
And a closeup of Wolf
Until I drew him I had no idea whether or not I could in fact draw a wolf... this was the first spread I tackled to make sure I could do it, so hopefully the images and words will knit together and sing! I really hope so!