getting your illustrations out there

WalterDropsColoronEveryone

illustrator: Walter Koessler (dropping color on their heads)

 

It’s the birthday of advertising exec-turned-writer Ilene Beckerman (books by this author), born in Manhattan (1935). She didn’t begin her writing career until the age of 60, and even then, she became a published author almost by accident. She had written and illustrated a book for her five children, something to remember her by. She said: “My purpose was to say things to my children one doesn’t have the time to say. I wanted them to know I wasn’t always their mother. I was a girl, I had best friends, we did stupid things together. I was on a bus with my friend once eating dog bones so people would look at us. I wanted them to know.”
She took the book she’d written down to the ad agency she owned, to use the machines there to make a dozen photocopies. She put them in big red binders, with the illustrations she had sketched in plastic sheet protectors, and handed them out to her children and a few close friends. She was done, or thought she was. Then, the cousin of a friend got a hold of one of the binders and sent it over to Algonquin Books. Pretty soon, the publisher was calling her about publishing her book. Beckerman said that they offered her “an advance that had a comma in it. I think I fainted.”

The book came out in 1995, and was called Love, Loss, and What I Wore. It’s the story of her life growing up in Manhattan in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, accompanied by drawings of the clothes that she was wearing during that time. She insists that clothing plays an integral part in many women’s memories, that they can recall important events or distinct spans of their lives by what they were wearing at the time. When the book came out, bookstores were not sure whether to market it as memoir or fashion. It was later made into a play by Nora Ephron and Deli Ephron.
Beckerman insists that clothes are the least important part of her book, which she considered a memoir.

The book contains advice and aphorisms from her grandmother, who raised her, such as, “If you have to stand on your head to make somebody happy, all you can expect is a big headache.”

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