Monday, September 11, 2017

Full-Time Wisdom from Yvonne Mes and a PRIZE!

I'm pretty sure that Yvonne and I met while inside a picture book. What was this picture book about? It was about well-rested moms that drank hot coffees, had lots of quiet time and lived a stress free life. I am not making this up! After we left that book titled "In My Dreams" Yvonne has gone on to be a full time author and illustrator. What does that mean? Is it even possible? Yes, and Yvonne is here to fill you in on the details!

Be sure to check the end of this post for a PRIZE!

Yvonne's books include "Meet Sidney Nolan" illustrated by Sandra Eterovic and "Oliver's Grumbles" illustrated by Giussepe Poli

Dani asked me to share a little about my experience in becoming a full-time author/illustrator.

A couple of months ago, I skipped, hopped and leaped into being a full-time author/ illustrator.

I had worked for many years as an early childhood professional and increasingly it became coupled with the frustration of never having enough creative time. Though, somehow I managed to have two picture book traditionally published.

I’d always been interested in books, but after my second son came along I fell deeply in love with picture books. Not being able to indulge wholeheartedly in this torrent affair of reading and creating stories, was anguish.

In addition, I was a perfectionist in denial, a mum to three boys, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a workmate and a volunteer. When finally there was not even a semblance of being any of these perfectly it led to an awkward and angsty existential crisis.

Of course, you can’t have a crisis without some obligatory soul-searching and so, in between dirty diapers and dishes, I discovered that I didn’t feel whole without creativity in my life. It is not enough to squeeze a little bit in, here and there. Such a small amount is not enough to make me a whole person even imperfectly. And even when I gave up on the illusion of perfection, it still was not enough. I had to decide whether it was time to let go of this silly dream and embrace the reality of my responsibilities or to take a risk and feel whole again.

So here I am today, committed and brave enough to say: “My name is Yvonne, and I am a writer and illustrator of books for children.”

How is it working so far …?

Do I get paid full-time? Nope, not in the least, or at least not yet. Hopefully with time, I will be, at least a little.

Is it for everyone? No, you need to be able to deal with loss of income, loss of security, and some loss of pride. This means you have to be absolutely determined and passionate to give it a go.

It is more than my creative expression though. It is about the power of story to change children’s lives. Children’s literature is important because of the difference it can make by showing the world through another’s eyes (whether it be a person, animal, monster or teapot), by giving children the experience of empathy, of making connections, and seeing different perspectives. I believe these experiences strengthen how children see themselves and how they understand themselves within their wider communities. As authors and illustrators, we play a big part in shaping culture.

To get back to the more practical side of being a full-time author/illustrator and in the spirit of SHOW don’t TELL, here are some examples of …

What NOT to do when going the full Ninja-Warrior-Writer:

Worry about your washing, your dishes, the floors.

Wallow in guilt about the dirty house, the husband cooking more than his equal share, the kids mistaken the PC for me.

Think that friends and family and even strangers will understand your obsession, uh, I mean passion with writing and illustrating.

Say YES to everything

Say NO to everything

Think that sleep is overrated

Take your family and friends for granted

Forget to surround yourself with other creatives

Am I spending each glorious minute sprouting precious prose and edgy illustrations?
Well, no. When I left my steady job, I imagined that I would have so much free time that I over-stretched myself immediately. I became more active in my children’s school, and more involved with children’s literature organisations, engaged in self-study and I was also busy trying to create what you would call income streams. My income streams are more trickles than streams, and instead of filling a healthy lake, it is forming a small muddy puddle! But this little piggy feels this is where she is meant to be--happy as a pig in mud!

The income trickles:

Picture book critique service - ‘No Nonsense Critiques’.
Art classes for children of friends - Exploring Stories.
Assisting with the StoryArts festival, a large Children’s Literature Festival.
Selling illustrations through Etsy.
Selling short stories, and hopefully some more books.
Writing workshops for emerging and published authors.
Author workshops for children at schools and festivals.
Applying for grants and funding (stagnant water at the moment).

Most of these have been recently established, and time will tell if some or any of these will provide support for my family in the future.

But most importantly, between all this, I have even found some time for writing and illustrating.

But this is the most exhilarating and excited I have felt for a long time, if not ever. Oink!


Yvonne Mes is a children’s author and illustrator from Brisbane. She writes fiction and non-fiction in the form of picture books, junior fiction and short stories. Her stories playfully expand children’s perspectives and invite exploration of feelings.

Meet Sidney Nolan (Penguin Random House Australia), a non-fiction picture book published in 2015, is listed on the NSW Premier's Reading Challenge. Her picture book Oliver's Grumbles was released in 2015 and will be re-released with Yellow Brick Books in 2017.

Her short stories are published in The School Magazine and in anthologies.

As an illustrator, Yvonne prefers to work with a combination of linoprint, watercolour, ink and Photoshop.

As an Early Childhood Professional, Yvonne has over 20 years’ experience working with children of all ages, abilities and cultures. She has a Bachelor of Children's Services, Certificates in Professional Children's Writing and in Visual Arts.

Yvonne presents workshops for grown-ups on how to engage children with their stories, but she is most in her element when acting out stories with children during school visits. Yvonne is the coordinator of Write Links, the Brisbane children's writers and illustrators group and is an active member of SCBWI, Book Links, IBBY and is a member of the Queensland Writer’s Centre and several other professional writing bodies.

Follow Yvonne:



Yvonne is giving away a ‘No Nonsense Critique’ worth $100. This is a structural critique on a picture book text under 100

You must finish your dummy this month in order to be eligible for this prize!

In order to win this prize you must comment on this post!


  1. Your post was inspiring this morning in a kinda harsh way. There's no way I'm putting in enough time for my work. I blame my bills and 40+ hour day job but those are just really excuses. Got to keep going though!

    1. Hi Brittanny, I think bills are the reality and definitely a real excuse. You've got to feed yourself and your family first. And yes, you've got to keep going. Every little thing you do on your art, craft or networking counts and adds up and will eventually lead to what you creatively desire.

  2. Hi Yvonne. It's good to meet a fellow Aussie. With so many engagements, where do you find time to write your own stories! I've never heard of Society6 before. Your Society6 site looks so professional, I'm curious to know what kind of camera you use to take such good photos?

    1. Hi Lynette and fellow Aussie!
      It is easy with Society6, you don't have to be a fantastic photographer at all! You upload your design at the right dimensions and Society6 transposes the image on the products :-)
      I don't have a lot of time to write my stories, but they are always in my head, my notebook is always with me and when I sit down to write, it soon starts flowing because the story has been evolving along the way.

    2. Thanks for the advice, Yvonne. Posted on Blogger:;postID=3515962375567100328;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=0;src=postname

  3. I really feel you. I have stopped worrying about all these things a long time ago and I'm glad I did. Of course, the people around us can disagree from time to time...

    1. Hi Sussu,
      Yes, it is not easy to let go of the judgement of others! It is so freeing when you manage it though, isn't it.

  4. I did the exact same thing! Retired from my job with high expectations of a creative life but instead became even more bogged down in taking care of everything for everyone. I put myself on the bottom of the list but no more! It's reading from posts like this that I've come to recognize that I'm not alone and that a balance can be found if one stays focused. Thanks for a great article, please keep spreading the word that we can make our creative dreams happen!

    1. Hi Phyllis,
      It really can be a struggle, can't it! That focus can be elusive at times, and you are right, it is good to know you are not alone!

  5. Yvonne is super inspiring and I'm proud to have her as a critique partner!

    1. Aww, Teresa you are amazing and inspiring yourself. This morning I was telling my children all about you and your homestead lifestyle where you eat what you grow. They wanted to grow apples in the backyard.

  6. This was an encouraging and inspiring post, Yvonne. I'm cheering you on from my own mud puddle.

    1. Haha! When you create a mud puddle, you might as well roll around in it and enjoy it, right?!

  7. Thanks for your post Yvonne. It gave me a lot to think about. I'm still struggling trying to balance my life and remain fully committed to my creative goals.

    1. Hi Louann,
      It certainly is a struggle, but it also has its rewards. One of the things that helped me is when I started referring to myself as a writer. Before that it was 'emerging writer' or 'beginning writer' etc. But giving myself permission to call myself a creative or a writer made a huge difference in how I saw myself and presented myself. Good luck with it!

  8. Thanks for the great post Yvonne! That definitely does sound like a lot to juggle, but when you're as happy as a pig in mud, you make it happen! :)

  9. Great post, and a good reminder that just because your a full time artist/writer it doesn't mean that there won't be new challenges.

    1. Thanks Julia,
      It does help when you have done your research and you are going in with realistic expectations!

  10. Thank you for such a "relatable" post! I can see (and hear) myself in your words....right along with you in the mud. :) Thanks too for offering a very generous prize.

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      How I love to read that a lot of us are sharing this big mud puddle!
      Good luck with your creative journey and the roll in the mud!

  11. Thank you so much for the inspiration! Wonderful advice!

  12. Another mud dweller here. It's not something everyone can do. The loss of income is a big obstacle. It's a whole family sacrifice. The greatest advantage I find is in my writing and art. I feel they have greatly improved because of the time I can devote to them.

    1. Hi mud dweller, I agree, loss of income is the reality, unfortunately. And it is a family decision. Though, I think my family in return have a much nicer person to be around with.
      All the best with writing and mud dwelling!

  13. Ok..I'm Laura, author-illustrator...THANKS for the tip to say that out loud (and believe it!)

    1. Hi fellow author/illustrator,
      So glad to 'meet' you!
      Sounds cliche - but, keep on believing!

  14. This was an inspiring post Yvonne. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing such great advice.