Tuesday, 2 January 2018

INSPIRATIONS – Dianne Hofmeyr

Piet Grobler's exuberant illustration for our new book FIDDLE DEE DEE
Hopefully your celebration of the New Year was similarly robust. 

What’s not to like about the year 2018? Such a splendidly round number – plump and ripe and if you believe Chinese numerology, also very lucky with its 8, and the 2 for double or twice lucky, the 0 for limitless and the 1 for a beginning. New beginnings, limitless energy and twice lucky.  Sounds like a good year for writing.

What motivates or inspires us to write?

For me, so much seems to come from tiny, bright sparks of childhood experiences, a scene embedded way back in the brain, a sentence, a word, a room, a face. Slim, ethereal snippets that are somewhere in the subconscious. My cork-board, is not strewn with yellow ‘post-it’ notes of plots… but with pictures. Visual reminders of something I can’t quite place.

I’m like someone about to embark on building a house. I collect designs and ideas from magazines and photographs and put them in a folder. My end-product – not being as clear-cut as building a house – means I'm swamped. Some pictures go back more than 30 years.
Girl dancing with crocodile by Niki Daly on a note he once sent me more than 20 years ago. 
A metal sculpture, with in tiny print below November 1984
When I’m about to start working on a new picture book, the cork-board becomes my memory palace. The one below of an ice cave... probably stemming from a childhood visit to a cave in Africa not with ice but the same idea of darkness and light... went up for my next book, TIGER WALK.

On the board is a girl dancing with a polar bear juxtaposed with a picture of a watching tiger. 
The pictures are there for me to draw on. But when finally the story (without my pictures) is handed over to the illustrator, she or he will have their own memory palaces of ideas that are different to mine. And so the two meld and if the meld is strong, a wonderful book emerges that belongs neither to the writer or the illustrator but to something that is quite ephemeral.
A cave spread by Jesse Hodgson for our new book TIGER WALK
And in the making of the book, just as in the pottery studio where an accidental fingerprint on an otherwise perfect pot, adds its own dimension, so stories acquire shaping through the personal touch of both the illustrator and the writer.

In 2018, dream more, look harder, don’t judge yourself or others, do things that make you laugh and hopefully new beginnings, limitless energy and twice lucky will fall into place. 

Twitter: @dihofmeyr


Lynne Benton said...

Lovely post, Dianne. Many thanks!

margaret mcallister said...

Thank you, I'll take a good look at all the pictures pinned up round the attic.

Dianne Stewart said...

Very interesting post. Thank you Di

Pippa Goodhart said...

I took that mention of the pictures 'being there for me to draw on' in the sense of adding your own images to them before I realised that you meant 'draw on' in terms of inspiration. I like both ideas! Happy new year to you, Dianne.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

No, absolutely don't have the talent! Just shows how fixed i was writing that... didn't even pick up the relationship! Thanks for wishes Pippa and to you too esp with your Bottle of Happiness flying like it is! Wonderful!

Savita Kalhan said...

A really lovely post, Dianne! I will certainly do a lot more dreaming in 2018 - and not judge myself so harshly!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Thanks Savita and everyone. It occurred to me that Piet's HUGE bright moon in the last illustration fits perfectly with our Supermoon right now. Yesterday it was the closest it will be to earth for the whole of 2018.

Carol Thompson said...

A thoughtful contemplative post Di.Wonderful images. I don't set myself up to fail with resolutions! But love the notion of the two faced Roman god Janus(January), facing forwards and looking backwards at the same time.....god of doorways,beginnings,transitions, endings.....and passageways.
Much more like my life!

Penny Dolan said...

Thanks, Di, for these glimpses of your idea palaces. A good and positive start for the year ahead.

Anne Booth said...

I hadn't thought of using pictures to inspire my picture book writing! Thank you for that! This was a very enjoyable post to read.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Anne I think its because of my training as an art teacher but I don't have an illustrator's ability. Even Google and Pinterist can give you ideas. e.g. type in "Unusual merry go rounds" and in Images, you'll get a killer rooster by the second image! Also I love the magazine World of Interiors... it has bizarre objects in some of the rooms. I suppose its rather like that image workshop Jenny Alexander does with tearing out of magazines, to inspire writing.

David Thorpe said...

Thanks Dianne. A good inspiration for the year ahead.