Friday 18 October 2013

where do stories come from?

I have just been in Ilkley as part of the Children's Bookshow, which is an annual programme of author and illustrator events in schools and theatres around the country.

Each time I am involved I make a new introduction to go with the stories I will be telling that year.  In previous years I have done a montage of my drawings from age three up to the present day and a picture story about a trip I made to America when I was two (the image on the banner above comes from that)...

This year I talked about the moment, about a year into working full time as a story maker, when I realised that all my ideas had dried up.

Here is an abridged version of it:

...What I came to understand was that creativity is a reflex, a response to something outside of ourselves and not an internal process at all.  I wasn't having any more ideas because my life now centered entirely around filling up blank pieces of paper.  Each day I would be confronted with a new blank page. It was gradually sucking all the stuff out of my brain until there was practically nothing left!

So instead of starting with nothing I tried starting with something.  I started with a dot.

Lo and behold, I started thinking of things.  Not terribly exciting things, I'll admit, but things nonetheless.

Now I had some material.  I tried putting them together... out came pictures that told stories!

Now I started looking around to find something else I could test my new powers on.  I discovered that you never have to look very far.  In this case I looked no further than my ass.  There were stories there too!

Now I do this kind of thing all the time.  It is too much fun not to.  For this introduction I set myself the challenge of telling a whole story with just one shape.  Here's what came out.  Click on it to see it big enough to read!


  1. and one of them

    was a chihuahua

  2. What a great way of starting off!

  3. Writing stories can be a lot like trying to play chess against yourself - in that there aren't too many surprises! This sort of thing seems to help.

  4. Thanks! It was fun to make!