People are often not what we expect.
If you communicate with someone over the internet or perhaps only speak to them on the phone or correspond by letter you might find that they are not quite what you imagined.
A while ago I met, for the first time, a girl I had spoken to on the phone many times, in fact over more than a year. I had come to know that she was married and had two children, liked walking and cycling - the everyday kind of details that pass in conversation from time to time. I felt as though I knew her quite well. She had a warm voice and a great sense of humour.
Eventually an occasion arose where I was to meet her for the first time. I had no particular thoughts about it but when I was introduced I was taken completely by surprise.
I had created in my own head an image of the person I had been speaking to on the phone. The small amounts of information aligned with the sound of her voice had conjured up in my imagination someone who looked completely different. I struggled to hide my surprise when I met her but it was entirely my own fault.
It made me think about the relationship we have with our stories when we hand them over to an illustrator.
When I write I have a picture in my head of my characters or the scenes in my stories, but the images my words might create in an illustrator’s mind my not necessarily be the same.
I have had my books illustrated by a fair number of illustrators and most of them have produced, if not what I had imagined, at least something that was close to it, and often much better.
Unfortunately once or twice the illustrations turned out ‘wrong’ at least as far as I was concerned. In one the main character’s best friend was just not friendly looking (admittedly he was an alien - but that was no excuse!)
It is sometimes very difficult to let go of a story, and characters you have given birth to, if you don’t like the way they are being illustrated. Even if you do like the style it can take quite a bit of a shift in your head when it looks very different to the original image conjured up when you wrote the story.
But a bit like the girl on the phone, once you get used to the difference you often forget your original thoughts and come to appreciate that the difference is just another way to see that the world is even richer and greater than your own imagination!