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I needed to plug in. So much to do, so little time. While searching for an empty booth at the cafe, I slowly approached a gentleman from behind. Another booth occupied. He was working quietly and vigorously. He seemed so intent on what he was doing. So passionate. I was curious. As I continued to seek an empty booth, something caught my eye over his shoulder. The flap of a sketchbook flopped open. One more step and my eyes fell upon the book. It was a sketch. A whimsical, fun drawing that seemed all too familiar. I tilted my head to get more of the sketch in view. It was familiarIt was . . . my sketch. My illustrationThis was the making of my book! For ten seconds I was speechless. Frozen. My feet wouldn’t move. I gasped. My eyes warmed. I held back a tear.

Finally, I stepped forward, placing my cup on his table. He looked up somewhat annoyed by the intrusion. One step on a Wednesday afternoon in a small, local cafe – put me face-to-face with him. My illustrator.

Yesterday was a defining moment in this crazy process. I met my illustrator! In this age of technology, a face-to-face meeting with all the hands that help develop a book can be rare. But it was a rare moment that was worth it.

It is almost impossible to put into words the level of emotions that swept through my body upon laying eyes on the original sketch boards of the illustrations. Seeing those images in such raw form made my picture book very real. For the first time I could actually visualize flipping through the pages of my own children’s book. It was no longer a little PDF thumbnail that would magically be transformed into a book. These sketches were blood, sweat, and tears. I could get a real sense of the time and care that went into this work.

We planned to meet at noon. I thought it would be more productive to get there a couple hours early, knock out some pages, then meet with him and conduct our business. Well, creative minds think alike, because he was already hard at work when I got there. We had not previously met. People don’t always look exactly like their pictures, so neither of us was sure who the other one was. And besides, it was two hours before we were scheduled to meet.

Needless to say, I’m not sure that we actually accomplished all that we set out to to do. But we certainly turned a one hour meeting, into a three hour laugh-fest. Making a real life connection to this ghost pencil, was affirmation. This meeting made my vision come alive and helped me see that this is not some mid-life crisis of a woman chasing childhood dreams.

What we do as writers, artists, creators, is not in vain. It all comes together eventually. I am so grateful to have found an illustrator that can capture my vision and make my story come alive. We make a great team.

Don’t rush this process. It is far too important – not only to you, but also your readers. In the end, everything you put into your first work and your last, will be worth it. Write on!