Thursday, April 14, 2011

goodnight worcester

Once upon a time I wanted to be a writer. Any kind of writer. YA. Children’s. Journalist. Essayist. Picturebook writer. Nonfiction. Novelist. Mystery. Romance. Okay, not romance. Back then, I was in Mrs. Hague’s English class and I thought I could be a writer.

Then, for a long time, I realized I couldn’t.

But one of the magical things about having little people around is this re-opportunity. The ability to re-be what you want. Where stories start tickling your toes and (try as you might) you can’t hold them back. And before you know it, you’re making up crazy scenes and asking two fifteen-month-olds if they think there is enough suspense or if that modifier is dangling. 
The itch to write again came like…minutes after Henry and Sophia were born. In a way, I started this blog as a way to ease back into writing. Because who wouldn’t want to write about their children and post pictures? (Yet, harder than I thought it would be). But one thing which ripened quickly was not writing about them – but for them.

Last summer I got the somewhat crazy idea to write them a book about Worcester. People may disagree with me on this one (and I have my arsenal of responses, so if you challenge me on this, watch out!) but – I. Love. Worcester. I went to school here. I met Tony here. I work here. I have my best friends here. I live here. How can I share that with my babies?

It actually was a lot easier than I thought. I set the task to write a poem about the city. Featuring structures, teams, places, themes (you’ll notice in my above desire to be a writer ‘Poet’ was not an occupation? Yes, not an accident. Poetry. Terrifies. Me). 

Then with Henry and Sophia loaded in their stroller or car seats we went to these places. I included Shrewsbury and Water Street, the American Antiquarian Society (a no-brainer), the Sharks and Tornadoes, Union Station, Library, City Hall, Hanover Theater, Mechanics Hall, colleges, universities, Green Hill Park, Elm Park, the Ecotarium, the Worcester Art Museum, Higgins Armory, Tuckerman Hall and other Worcester landmarks. And I squeezed it into the pre-scribed 32-pages to make it a children’s book.

Together the three of us sat. Observed. Sketched. Photographed. And returned home. Armed with my pre-work I created quasi-finished watercolors (to the artists – have you ever tried to lay a flat wash with not one, but two infants in your arms? Difficult. Yes.) And finished the pen, ink and paint in bed at night while watching Law and Order intellectual shows on PBS. I then scanned in my watercolors, typed up my poem, imported it into iPhoto, arranged it, and sent it to Apple to print and bind. Thank you Steve Jobs.

And done in time to give it to Henry and Sophia for their first birthday. It was pretty amazing. They’ve only just started “reading” it (voracious readers. We have no idea where they get it from). But I can’t wait (no really) to write them more.

In addition to the two I had printed for H & S, I had some printed as birthday and thank-you presents. And they’ve made the rounds. I had a stranger email me and want to order four of them as gifts (which was exceedingly cool) but I am totally embarrassed by what Apple charges per/book. So my quest has been to find an affordable printer (Apple’s books are pretty quality…) so I can order a couple dozen and sell them at cost.

I wonder how that would translate into a story? Where the fair matron-mother writes to Steve Jobs and asks for a price break and…

I've included the cover page and two interior illustrations below for those who are interested (and know little of my project). For the non-Worcester readers the views include Water Street (best. bread. ever) the Worcester Art Museum and Ecotarium.



  1. oh my gosh - it's amazing!!!! I am totally blown away by these images! love this. thanks for sharing it!