How does a story come into being? Even after writing and publishing fifteen or twenty of them, I'm still not sure. I'm currently at work on a story about---well, I'm calling him Raymond, for now. I suppose his conception began many years ago. Doggie characters began to appear in some of my illustrations (see LOVE'S A SWEET, by Clyde Watson). Possible story lines began evolving in my mind. Then one day, as I was idly scribbling with a recalcitrant pen, and carelessly slopping watercolor over the paper, Raymond appeared.
He not only appeared, he began talking (as all good characters do). It was immediately clear that Raymond was telling his story through diary entries. It was equally clear that I had to find a diary for Raymond before anything more could happen. I am an obsessive collector of blank books, but nothing in my collection was suitable. Raymond is male, from quasi-Victorian times. Everything I had was too feminine, and of course too modern. I began haunting bookstores, looking for Raymond's dairy. I added significantly to my collection of blank books, but still no diary for Raymond. I finally resigned myself---and Raymond---to making do with what was available, and started looking online, hoping to at least find images of Victorian diaries. Raymond and I would simply pretend. Then, one day, on Ebay, there it was---Raymond's diary, dated 1880.
I watched the auction for a week, hovered over it, checked it fifteen times a day, waited til the last five minutes to bid, my heart in my mouth. Suddenly, Raymond had his diary---for only $7.99 plus shipping, which delighted my Yankee soul (Raymond didn't care---after all, I was the one footing the bill). And it's perfect. An all-leather cover, with a holder for a pen or pencil, and compartments for critical papers.
The gold-edged paper diary itself, with useful charts, lists, schedules, and tables (which I can tailor to Raymond's particular needs and which will be extremely helpful to him as he navigates his way through various mishaps).
Pages for keeping financial accounts; and dated spaces for the actual entries.
Best of all, it's very small, fitting easily into Raymond's pocket, where it will be safe---and well-hidden from his enemies. So I'm hoping that Raymond and I are now ready to proceed. There's just one small cloud on the horizon...I think I heard Raymond say something the other day about needing a camera...