Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. -W. B. Yeats

Back in 2001, I took what felt like a huge risk. I sent a dummy of a children’s picture book that I’d written and illustrated to Maria Shriver. She was aware of my children’s illustrations and especially liked a portrait I had created for her friend Oprah Winfrey. Still, in all honesty, I felt beneath her. She was accomplished in every area of her life, including writing children’s books. At that time, I was struggling to find my voice as a writer and infuse life into my illustrations.

I’m sure Maria has no idea the gift that was wrapped in her response to me. Although she admitted she usually didn’t look at books that were about to be published, she made an exception with mine. She was thoughtful enough to read it with one of her little girls who loved fairy stories. In her letter to me, Maria shared her daughter’s insights about the book. Although I had a publisher interested in it at the time, I decided to switch gears and rewrite the story. Recreating all the art and implementing her daughter’s suggestions into the book was a huge task. Looking back, I am so glad I did it. Her daughter’s ideas were the beginnings of bringing my book to life.

Through the years and a few more revisions I stand on the threshold of Glory in the Morning being published. Maria’s kindness not only changed the direction of the book but it changed the trajectory of my life. She took the time to see me and believe in me and helped me to know that my dreams mattered. Her validation gave me the realization that there’s a place in the world for me and my gifts.

 Glory in the Morning is now  the subject of a Kickstarter campaign that ends Nov. 5th.Preliminary sketch for Glory in the Morning. Soon There Will Be No Me to Believe in from Glory in the Morning.My little fairy in the flesh.Page from Maria Shriver’s letter.

All text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.

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