This year, Sarah and I were fortunate to be invited by the organisers behind the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015 (Thank you to the National Library Board and Book Council Singapore) to speak about Nanowrimo under the Writers & Illustrators Conference. (Sarah was there as main speaker and I was there in case she needed back-up during Q&A.)
Following the topic of “Unleashing Your Potential with Online Platforms”, all four invited speakers were there to speak about the various online challenge projects they were involved in and how it has helped them with their creative lives.
That being said, she went on stage with JF Koh, organizer of the Singapore branch of the 24-Hour Comics Day, Emily Lim, award-winning children’s book author and participant of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge, and Tania McCartney, founder of the 52-Week Illustration Challenge.
Moderated by Felicia Low-Jimenez, the started with each speaker talking about the online platforms they work with. To sum things up, this list showed the gist of what each challenge was about:
- Nanowrimo: Writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
- 24-Hour Comics Day: Finishing a 24-Page Comic in 24 Hours.
- 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge: Writing a picture book a month for a year.
- 52-Week Illustration Challenge: Uploading creative pieces once a week for a year.
In essence, interested parties sign up on these online platforms, while doing the actual creating offline. However, the platforms provide communities of like-minded creators, exposure to various types of art, and possibly, opportunities for further skill development or promotion.
It is known that Nanowrimo participants have gone on to publish works they started during the challenge itself, and the same goes for comics produced during 24-Hour Comics Day. Likewise, the 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge gives participants both the motivation and the critiques to polish their work. And what started as a personal project became a 52-week illustration challenge for creators around the world to showcase their works and find opportunities.
I believe the most important lesson is how talent and skill will only get you so far. Practice and showcasing will help creators develop in networking, in skill, in talent, and in order to do so, creators as a whole can take that step.
To paraphrase Tania, once it’s on the Internet, you can throw copyright out the window. However, which of these risks would you be willing to take?
Having a single person out of hundreds and thousands take your work out of no regard for you, or living in obscurity because you’re afraid of that single person?
And to leave you to think about it, here’s something JF said.
“Someone once told me that the young artist’s biggest enemy is not plagiarism, but obscurity.”