Page 32

If you're a picture book illustrator you'll know the significance of Page 32. It's the end of a long haul during which you created illustrations for the 32 pages of a picture book, plus cover and possibly end pages. You've put together a pdf for final proof and you've pressed 'send'. A strange kind of peace descends. The moment before you launch into whatever else is lurking on your to-do list. It's the quiet when the wind drops and the snow falls soundlessly. Ahhhh.

You try not to think about the spreads that weren't quite as you saw them at the moment of conception. When they existed only in your head after you read the manuscript. Of the character you met and the world they occupied. Of the colours you might use. Those first frantic days of scribbling in notepads and the 'yes' moments (and the 'no'). Of how vital the first pencil strokes were as you made marks and textures and bold, incisive strokes.

Of how you struggled in the middle. And how the redraws of the first ideas diluted the energy. The long hours, nights and many cups of tea working to get it back.

Then you got to the colour and it was a surprise, because now there was another element on the paper dictating where this was going; musn't let it get away from you!  You were a child again and the colours made you smile. And you wondered if the child looking at the colours would smile also?

So, after weeks or months, you come down to final tweaks. Zoom in from outerspace, a view of the planet, the continents, then the country and finally you scutinize the town and streets and houses and focus on a particular room. Until you reach page 32 and you feel yourself sink into the armchair of nothing left to do. You send it into the world. Then you make a final cup of tea and reflect.

In the morning you are not living with those 32 pages anymore. They have launched into the atmosphere. For now, there is peace. An uncertain peace, granted. Tomorrow, the day after,  they may re-enter. Ready for more tweaks and changes.

But right now there is a space in my heart.

'One Word Pearl' by Nicole Groeneweg, from Mackinac Island/Charlesbridge Fall 2013.