an inherently social person, I have often struggled with the
loneliness of a writer’s life. But recently I learned that writing
doesn’t have to be lonely. It doesn’t have to be slow, hard and
painful. It doesn’t have to just be me chatting to my imaginary
characters in my head, and occasionally swearing at the computer.
Writing can be a fast, fun, and social process. I have been writing
for six years, but never knew this. Now I’ve learned it’s
possible – with a little help from synchronicity.
Away, the first book in the Forest Tools series, came about when
my forest school trainer friend Toni and I chatted about a gap in the
Forest School market in July 2018.
know,” said Toni, “wouldn’t it be cool to create a series of
books that help forest school teachers teach children about tools in
a safe but fun way.”
idea,” I said, “let’s do that.”
night, I went home and wrote a first draft of what would become
Whittling Away. I wrote it in my hallway, sitting on the
stairs, still in my coat. It took me about ten minutes to pin that
it happened, a few weeks before that I had met a publisher for
educational books, Laura from Cambridge Thinking Press. When I
approached her with Toni’s idea, she said: “Great idea, let’s
it happened, Toni knew an illustrator, Tennie Videler, who also said:
“Great idea, let’s do that!”
mere eight months later we have now launched the Forest Tools series
with Whittling Away, to be closely followed by three further
volumes to complete the series: Lighting Away, Lopping
Away, and Sawing Away.
months from idea to publication. Now, eight months might seem long to
those who don’t know much about publishing. Let me assure you, it’s
not. It usually takes years to get a picture book published. (It has,
in the past, taken me years just to get one written, let alone
illustrated, sold and published…). To get a good book created from
scratch in eight months is no mean feat, and it requires hard work
and fairy dust. The fairy dust being this very beautiful but often
elusive thing: synchronicity. Being in just the right place; at just
the right time; with just the right people.
with her deep knowledge of all things forest provided both Tennie and
me with the ability to create a story that was educational, but also
light-hearted and funny. Tennie, with her keen eye for detail and her
talent for nature drawings, set to work straight away. And then there
was Laura, of course, whose entrepreneurial spirit brought it all
together in a cohesive way. Laura then found Rebecca to join the
team, and her graphic design really makes this book sing.
four of us just happened to be available and ready to launch
ourselves into this major undertaking at the right time. All four of
us were keen and willing to listen and learn from each other. We
worked hard, but the process felt organic and, at times, almost
effortless, with each of us in our own sphere of knowledge and
ability, bouncing off each other’s creativity.
me, Whittling Away is not just a book. It’s a tribute to
synchronicity and happy collaboration. And a proof of how much fun
writing can be. Now to move on to number 2 in the series…Lighting
Away here we come!
Whittling Away is out on 27th April 2019 with Cambridge Thinking Press. You can get your copy here
Written by Anita Lehmann, illustrated by Tennie Videler