From the Author
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago … there was a farm, there was summer, there was a meadow, there was hay, there was a small hill, and there were people and a child with a rake. This must have been ages ago … sometime after the middle of the last century. The people sat on the hill and chatted about the good weather, they had put down their rakes and were watching the cut grass and the tractors running around it. The child with the rake had also walked the round and followed the hay that got left out. The child looked at this enormous green field. It took forever to walk around it. Endless rounds. But that wasn’t enough. Even bigger ones waited for the same treatment. Waving fields of green grass as far as the eye could see. Whole summers filled with raking hay. Many, many days of walking with the rake. The child dreaded growing up and having to rake these giant fields days on end. It was astonished by how happy the grown ups were about the whole thing. They laughed and talked about things that were not connected with their work. They talked about the Nobel poet. The Nobel poet said this and the Nobel poet wrote that. “What does a Nobel poet do?” asked the child. “Halldór [Laxness] is a writer, he writes books,” was the answer. “Easy as pie!” thought the child and ran its rake through the grass as it thought about a story and a picture of an elf that it had made very quickly earlier that day. “I will be a writer when I grow up,” the child said, “then I won’t have to work.”
Why were they laughing?
I did not understand it then.
Now the fields look small and the grass as green on both sides of the stream. When I get to make hay, I am no longer overwhelmed by the work, even if the weather-gods can be tricky. When it comes to writing and creating books however, I see endless rows of words and pictures, a well of enchanting work that makes me forget about summer vacations, eight-hour workdays and a stable income. In this field, you can hardly trust in anyone but yourself, and I try to rake my little stack together.
There is no direct line from my first ideas about the work of a writer to the fact that I have created picture books for children. The path through life is windy and strange; one day time has brought you a title, experience and a resume, which says that this is who you are. Once, future was a giant space of possibilities. As far as I can remember, I meant to become a horticulturalist or a witch rather than a writer or something of that sort. Or maybe a lighthouse keeper, bird specialist, train conductor or a farmer. I didn’t become a farmer, but I still work at one of the fundamental trades. Artists have in common with farmers to make goods that we cannot live without and these goods then create a living for even more people.
I write texts because I draw. I draw for the same reasons other people write. Stories come to me and I look at life through pictures and words. I am enchanted by the complicated, or not so complicated, combination of arks of paper that seem to be able to contain everything between heaven and earth, that which we call a BOOK. I am a true admirer of the picture book and I feel that I have hardly begun to study its possibilities and its wonders. Without doubt, I can be said to be nostalgic when it comes to children’s books, but as everyone knows who read as a child, magic moments do exist. These are the moments I remember and it is the feeling of endlessness and freedom that I encounter in the world of the children’s book.
Áslaug Jónsdóttir, April 2006.
Translated by Kristín Viðarsdóttir.Back