I began to write my children’s book when my daughter was one and a half years old, and I had just been laid off from my job. The layoff was unexpected, as you might imagine, but it was not the first time I was told that my services were no longer required. It wasn’t even the second or third time. It was the sixth time. Which sounds like a lot, but a career in art/design is often an unsecured one.
I had become used to the idea of short term stints with different companies as my lifelong career plan. This lay off changed the way I looked at my career accomplishments though. It was with a smaller company so the fact that they struggled wasn’t a surprise. I was aware that when times are tough, the creative department is among the first places to go for cuts. All of these things were old hat to me. What was different about this lay off? This time I had a daughter to take care of.
I was afraid and stressed. Kids aren’t cheap. Healthcare isn’t cheap. Rent isn’t cheap. Everything is even harder without a paycheck. My wife was working part-time with no option for full-time. Unemployment helped, but adjustments had to be made to our lifestyle. I questioned what kind of a partner, parent, and provider I was. Not only was I looking for a new job, but I was questioning all of my career decisions to that point.
I was a bundle of nerves and stressed like never before. But I wanted to keep a positive attitude and be strong for my family. I didn’t want to let them down and I didn’t want my daughter to worry…or even begin to grasp the concept of worrying (she’d have a lifetime to learn about that). Most of all I wanted to encourage my daughter to be strong when challenges arrive and to give life your all. Then it occurred to me. How could I encourage her to stay strong in the face of fear and follow her dreams if I hadn’t?
A children’s book is born.
I have spent years telling myself, “one day I’ll create the characters and books that I want to do. Not just work on someone else’s vision or products”. But I never set a date to do this. I never had a plan and so my projects were put on the back burner and never happened. It was safe and easy to collect a paycheck working for someone else and only dream about what I’d rather be doing. That is, until I faced the life-altering event of being laid off with a child at home.
After this layoff I decided that I was going to create a children’s book that delivers the message, “Don’t be afraid of the unknown”. The book would be completely my vision. As the writer and illustrator I would fully realize my hopes for my daughter and bring this book into existence. I was unsure of how to go about getting the book published or printed, but I would find a way. I would need to venture beyond the walls of that which I was familiar. And I would need to be strong while facing the fear of the unknown.
I created the Good Night Knight for my daughter. But it was also a lesson for me (actually many lessons as it turns out). Dreams and hopes are vital, but they remain in the ether until you take action. So, start that project you’ve always wanted to do. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Go beyond your walls of personal comfort and discover what lies ahead.
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