Boathouse, School, and Public Speaking, Oh My!

Can I let you guys in on a little secret?

I hate public speaking.

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Okay, so maybe hate is too strong of a word….how about I thoroughly dislike public speaking?

Being in front of people and having them look at me gives me the heebie jeebies. I break out into splotchy hives under my neck like this:

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HIVES!!!! In my WEDDING pictures!!!! Thankfully this is just a mild case…

I’m always afraid I’m going to say something wrong and make a fool out of myself, and being the center of attention is not my cup of tea.

But I love my job and Boathouse Mouse more than I hate speaking in front of people. So when my son’s fourth grade teacher asked if I’d be willing to come in and talk to them and the fifth graders about being an illustrator, I jumped at the chance!

It was a lot of fun visiting with the kids this morning. I spoke for about 40 minutes (which flew by!) and then there was Q&A time for about 10 – 15 minutes afterwards.

Some things we talked about were:

  • Who makes up the team that makes the Boathouse books (there are four of us!)
  • How long it takes to make each book (about 6 months for the whole book, with about 5-10 hours on each page)
  • How I come up with each illustration idea
  • How I design each character; we walked through the process of designing Boathouse and learned what ‘anthropomorphic’ means
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Explaining which parts of Boathouse are made up and which are real mouse based

  • What supplies I use; they got to see the difference between the watercolor paper they use in school vs. what I use for illustrations, see my special graphite paper, and hear why I use three different mediums for coloring
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I’m showing them where the graphite is gone from being transferred to the final paper

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One of the kids feeling the difference between cold press and hot press watercolor paper

  • How the skills they’re gaining in school help with publishing a book (reading, math, public speaking, computer, etc.)
  • I broke down each step of the process; they were surprised at how much work really goes into a book!
  • Aaaand they may or may not have gotten to hear an excerpt from Book 2! But oh man, they were not too happy with me when I wouldn’t read any more!

I had to be careful about what pictures I included; I wish I could include some pictures of the kids getting excited about Book 2, but I don’t have permission to include any kiddos in my blog. I do have permission to include the boy’s head in some of these pictures, but it also helps he belongs to me 😉 My eldest was also at the presentation, but she was my photographer extraordinaire (aka she took over 1,200 pictures!).

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Q&A time!

I had such a great time that when the fourth grade teacher asked if she could tell other teachers about the presentation and see if any of them want me to come talk to their classes, I of course said yes 🙂

Maybe public speaking isn’t so bad after all? Or maybe it’s not so bad because it’s over and I don’t have another engagement lined up at the moment 😉

 

Do you like public speaking? Give me your best tips for feeling comfortable in front of a group! And let me know if you have any questions about the illustrating/book making process!

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