Behind the Book: The Making of “Eclectic Emily”

Have you ever had something you knew in your heart you were meant to do but had no idea how or when you’d ever get to it? Have you been praying for something for so long yet haven’t seen it come to fruition? I have been there.

I hope today you’ll be inspired to write your aspirations down, pray about them, and be ready to take action when God moves in your life. (I also wrote a backstory to this post so you could gain perspective for what motivates me).

I don’t know the things (big or small) you want to accomplish in life, but I do know one thing for sure. I believe there is no better time than now to put a stake in the ground for your dream.

I’m here to champion you that you can accomplish something big this year and gain skills in the process. Last Summer Emily P. Freeman challenged her newsletter subscribers to write down 5 things that we would do for fun if we had margin in our lives. I wrote down this list. I then said aloud on an Instagram video that I wanted to write a book and immediately upon turning off my camera thought, “ I shouldn’t have said that. When will I ever have the time?”

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Who knew a year later that 2020 would be the year of wide margins for many of us? Personally, I’ve had more extra time to fill than ever before.

Just a few months ago I leaped into this new decade a Preschool Teacher and long time Professional Photographer. I’ll end this year an Author and Art Teacher. Talk about an unexpected but exciting pivot I didn’t see coming!

I started out this year declaring the word “launch” as my theme for the ’20’s (thinking about preparing my kids for the world) and God had a sense of humor and told me I’d be launching more than “arrows.”

Oh the irony and the power of words!

In the midst of all of this time at home, letting go of distractions and working through a lot of emotions, I began to pray again about the book I knew I was supposed to write.

I had time, the title and said out loud to my mom, “I think I’m going to write a book.” Yet, the book for women that I had mentioned off of the cuff to her still goes unwritten because May 29 I was awakened with every word of a children’s book.

“The Lord gives and The Lord takes away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

It was as if the book I’d been wanting to write had been handed straight to me which I believe to be the answer to my prayer. It was so clear that I quietly got out of bed as not to wake my family and typed every word.

By 8 a.m. I had a book proposal, title, and a general marketing plan. I texted it to my husband and my parents. They loved it!

By the end of that week, I had the dummy of my book laid out on notebook paper, folded, stapled, with sketches and words scrawled on each page.

I had been in a creative drought for so long and now the ideas were pouring.

That’s why I have to give all credit to God and the power of prayer.

I made it a goal to illustrate one spread per day and study the process of publishing.

I kept myself going knowing it wasn’t wasted time. I had nothing to lose. If nothing came of this, it would be a learning experience for me to gain marketable skills that I could pass on to my High School Digital Art students. Plus, it would be my attempt to put something happy in the world in a very sad year.

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From start to finish it took me one month from grand idea to “available for pre-order” on Amazon.

“Eclectic Emily” is for creative kids all over the world and an encouragement for the people who come alongside them to give them inspiration to be who they were made to be. My story affirms that the little things parents, teachers, and friends do play a pivotal role in the life of a child.

It’s been a family project with my kids giving input on my wording, illustrations, ideas, etc. They were honest. “I don’t like that.” “That looks better.” “Say that a different way.” Now the’ve each memorized the whole thing and feel so invested. They’ve been learning Photoshop along with me and listening in as I glean from authors all over the world.

This book is a personal story of tenacity that honors my parents, my childhood best friend, my favorite English teacher, and my High School Art instructor.

Each of them played a part in keeping me on the creative path and I believe the lessons I learned from them kept me from the temptation to despair in the midst of this global pandemic that turned my professional world upside down.

They taught me to persevere and I pray this book encourages kids and kids at heart to keep on keeping on in spite of our sometimes difficult reality.

Staying focused on a creative project during this time has been so good for my soul. I’ve thrived during this season by having the mindset “chase the fun.”

Painting with the kids? Sure!

Ordering Wizard of Oz pajamas? Confirm payment!

Make fun stickers to go with my book? Yes, please!

Make a soundtrack for my book? Play it again!

Being safer at home doesn’t mean it has to be a lost year. With a little ingenuity and a bit of hustle we could individually turn 2020 on it’s head and put some goodness out into the world!

Need some podcast inspiration? Here’s a great one featuring Angela Duckworth, author of the must read book for go getters, “Grit.