How Georgie Came to Life
By Red Dirt Kelly on January 04, 2013
Yesterday I experienced a small personal celebration as I officially began announcements that "Georgie the Giant" was now complete and ready to order.
My feelings around this project have been simmering for some time, as 'Georgie" actually began to take shape when I was not yet ten years old. There are pieces of influence floating through time and space that eventually settled into a cohesive story about love and fear. And for that settling, I'm very grateful. After all, Georgie was only "a ghost of a Giant" as late as fall, 2012.
But he's here now.And I thought with the announcement of this book, I would share the"how" of his existence.
Georgie was first incubated when my cousin Gina Weaver told a story to me and a few other cousins that included the phrase, "cookies as big as wagon wheels." That phrase caught my attention, and obviously has stuck with me for a very long time.
Also influencing this book were the thousands of words, interactions and behaviors I witnessed while growing up in the 60s and 70s related to racism, discrimination, judgmental attitudes, and harsh criticism of people groups. I can remember times when people around me received the brunt of intense hate or cruelty, and even recall feeling physically ill because of what I saw and heard. Other times, I believe I reflected and acted out some of those same behaviors, and was occasionally the recipient of hate as well. Hate is most often Fear in disguise, and for this reason Georgie was born as a story I began to tell my children when they were fairly young.
As they grew, the story grew. But it was most greatly expanded when my eldest called me from the campus of the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) and asked for help. Her education there consisted of 9-week rotational workshops and she was working on a calligraphy project. She asked me to write George into manuscript form so she could transcribe it into a handmade book, written in her chosen calligraphy font.
Wow, what a job that was. For me? Yes, indeed! But for her? A crazy big job. Truly, an extra-super duper crazy intense job. Want to know how the scribes felt during medieval times? Do what she did. Rachel still has her handmade book; it's a one-of-a-kind treasure and I love it:
A friend of hers at KCAI was a printmaking major, and one conversation led to another among friends and somehow Peggy White agreed to illustrate the project in hopes of publishing it some day. Peggy read the manuscript, then we met and decided which scenes throughout the story needed pictures.
Then SHE worked and worked and worked. Then I reviewed her work, asked for a few revisions, suggested things here and there, etc. Then Peggy created a palette, brought it to the house, we concurred that Georgie needed "those colors" and she began to paint. She ALSO had a crazy-big job. Okay, we all did.
Once it was complete, and about five years and too many trials to publishers and meetings between Peggy and I later, we agreed to self-publish. And, I'm so glad we did.
Sometimes, works are more important to the authors than any other reason surrounding a particular project. And, I think that's where we were on Georgie. It's STILL where I am on Georgie. My feelings are now these...I did it for my girls. It wouldn't have happened if not for my daughter Rachel. Peggy was patient and stuck with it as much as I did. And in the end, I'm happy with the book.
And, I'm SO happy with the book I'm sharing it with you. I hope that, if you need a good story in your life, you pick up a copy at this link below. And if not, I'm glad just to tell you my story...of how Georgie came to life.
by Melissa Ford
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