Featured,  Research

GOGN Fellowship project: Co-creating an open picture book about open education

A few days ago I found out that my GOGN fellowship project was accepted. I am over the moon. Hard work is ahead. But also a lot of creativity and resourcefulness will be needed. I have no idea what we will co-create but that is the exciting part of it.

So, what is the plan? To co-author an open picture book about open education. Yes, a picture book, to raise awareness about the value of open education and what can be achieved through it using a story. A story that is cross-generational and can be told, red to non-readers, Young as well as experienced readers. When we talk about open education often we relate it to higher education but, isn’t this a bit late? Is there a need to start earlier? Isn’t there a need to see things more holistically?

Thank you to the GOGN team for seeing value in this unusual idea and supporting it. The project will be a collaborative one. I cherry picked the dream team from my GOGN family members from around the world. I met all of them, thanks to GOGN when I still was a PhD student or shortly after. GOGN was and still is a valuable peer support network and community for me!

Back to the fellowship project. I started getting organised really quickly. If you have worked with me before, you will know that I don’t like last minute things. I prefer to start working early on a project. Therefore planning and managing time available is really important. We are all busy. I would like us to make a strong start launch it on the 14th of October during the GOGN seminar and the project plan is ready and will be discussed and finalised soon with the core team.

An open communication channel has already been established via a group DM on Twitter for the core writing team. The Google doc folder is also ready and has been shared with the team. The idea I had to select story seeds from the wider global community is now ready. I decided to do this via a survey. These seeds will then be considered during the collaborative writing process.

It will be a picture book with animal characters, as animals in picture books can be more inclusive. But what animals will be in the story? And in how many languages will we be able to translate it?

The MA in Creative Writing I just finished, the picture book course I am doing this year at the Golden Egg Academy, but also my experience of the first two open collaborative picture books I created What will today bring and The Invisible King, and my experience of 10 years translating novels and pictures books, will help me with this new project as my approach has been informed by these experiences, courses and related activities.

Evie Hurst, one of the illustrators I worked with before on The Invisible King picture book, has said yes so she will do all the illustrations for this book. Evie is currently a first year undergraduate Student in Illustration and Animation. This time, I will stay away from providing directions or notes linked to possible scenes. Not something that will be easy for me, I have to admit, as when I write, I also visualise the images. But my last experience with Evie showed me that my approach wasn’t the most effective one and that the illustrator needs that creative freedom to interpret the story. I can see it clearer now and my readings also confirm that this is the most effective approach when the writer is not the illustrator. Ody Frank, a Six-Form College student in Animtion and Game Design and my youngest son, will design the book.

The story will be a collaborative writing output. While co-authoring is common in academic writing, creative writing in the context of picture books is usually a solo experience. Except perhaps when we look at how Bookdash in South Africa works. On the last picture book, I worked with multiple illustrators, but I have never co-authored a picture book story. It will be exciting to see how this will work and what story will emerge through this collaborative creative writing process. The whole dream team is shown below in the picture.

We have already started working together and thanks to everybody’s critical comments (exactly what was needed!!!), we have our survey ready to launch the picture book project and collect story seeds from the wider community. Please feel free to share as widely as possible. The survey will remain open only until the 31st of October 20.

I am really excited to see how this project will develop and where it will lead us. Thank you GOGN and all collaborators for embracing this project.

visualising GOGN memories

You can watch Chrissi’s presentation of her fellowship at our meet the fellows mini seminar recording.

Visualisation by Chrissi using Sketches