I was working on a picture book a few days ago and was stuck and had no where to go. I scratched out a few terrible sentences … and they were really terrible. I wrote sentences I knew wouldn’t work, they were like flat cardboard placeholders shaping out the kitchen I knew would be coming.

I knew what I wanted to do, but I just didn’t know how to do it. That is why one must put stuff down. You are not putting down the perfect words. You are creating that blueprint, that cardboard mock up of the bright and shining kitchen you’ve dreamed of for so long.

The quartz countertops will come. The stainless steel double fridge will arrive. The curly maple cupboards will all work and fit in their places. There will be room for a dishwasher. But all these come later, and when they come it will get messy.

Your floor unfinished floor will irk you, because you want your slate tile to be installed now. You have holes here and there, and no under cabinet lighting because the contractor is three weeks late.

Things might stay messy for a time, but keep putting things in. Keep rearranging. Keep fitting things together, cleaning things up, and before you know it, that kitchen, that polished kitchen will be standing right before you. And you’ll be pulling melting chocolate cookies out of that double oven, reaching into your double fridge for a sweating half gallon of whole milk.

Will it turn out just how you had first envisioned it? Probably not. But it be the way it needed to be.

There is structure in the doing, in the laying out of a blueprint, in shopping for the right appliances, in finding the right tile for a blacksplash. But there is also art as well. Do not forget the art. Placing those kitchen puzzle pieces you so loving chose in aesthetic, conventional arrangements that provide for easy of use and functional design. This all is art. And it must begin with ideas and sketches and crumpled up-marked up blueprints.

The same is true for the picture book. We are all picture book craftsman trying to create a warm and inviting place to feed the child’s heart with joy, or truth, or love. I wish you the best, Sara, as you continue writing one sentence every day. 

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