As a kid, I loved to read books that were about people making books. There were two in particular that I read a lot, one in comic-strip style about the building of a picture book from start to finish, and another about the actual manual work of collating and binding a book of your own. I borrowed these books from the local public library so often that I’m sure a little part of me felt that the librarian should just take pity on me and give them to me for keeps.
These days we’d say that reading books about writing, illustrating, and making books is kind of meta, but childhood me had no such word for it. I only knew that these books provided a peek into a process that was like drawing aside a magical curtain and opening up the world beyond, like lifting the lid of an upright piano and seeing the intricate innards of the instrument, like peering past the surface of the water to the microcosmic life of the rockpool beneath. Looking at the processes behind books was mesmerising.
I still feel the same sense of fascination with these backstage tours. I have a small but serious collection of books that each explore someone else's creative processes. One of my favourites is about the writer andillustrator Eric Carle; it has a giant fold-out page that shows the step-by-step process Carle uses to create his trademark collages. Another book shows pages from EH Shepard’s childhood sketchbook, with annotations in a scratchy, childish hand. I can’t really explain their fascination for me; I only know that processes are delicious. Show me your first drafts, your sketchbooks, your outlines, and I’m a little bit in awe.
For that reason, it’s been fun to follow the trail of bloggers passing along the Blog Tour Award and talking about their creative processes. (And gosh, reading about how people write is so much easier and more fun than actually writing.) I was nominated to take part in the fun by James Cooper, chief editor of the author.docx blog and lecturer at Tabor College in Adelaide (you can read his answers here). I took several units under James when I was studying my BA, and loved them all. In fact, James’s recommendation introduced me to Francine Prose’s Reading Like A Writer, one of the best books about books I’ve ever read.
The idea of the blog tour is to answer a series of questions about my own creative processes, and to nominate up to four other bloggers to do the same. I was supposed to post my answers today, but I have a busy house full of local and interstate guests so I’ll be back with my answers tomorrow.
In the meantime, though, I have a question for you: are you a process person? What processes inspire you with a desire to create, do, or become?