Jez's Blog

The Strange Story of How I Found a New Band

A Salute to My Influences

Celebrating Our Differences

Daring to Use the Four-Letter Word

What Is The Real Olympian Spirit?

Watching The Olympics Opening Ceremony

How Good Service Turned into a Speed Trip

Blurring the Line Between Fact and Fiction

How Creativity Keeps Moving On

How an Artist in the Kitchen Revealed my Inner 'Foody'

Synchronicity - an Everyday Sort of Magic

Does This Make You Laugh?

The Magic of Storytelling

How Good Design Serves the User

Learning to Love Creative Blocks

Creating The CLUB

How a Kiss Missed Its Target at a Posh Do

How Bob Dylan refused the Box labelled ‘Protest Singer’

The ‘Get Back in Your Box’ Syndrome

What’s all the fuss about?

Reflections on Learning and Teaching

The Third in my Triptych of Entries about Thought

Happily disconnected in Cornwall

The Best Way to Sell is to Do Something Well

Life is Good

Zen & the Art of Birdwatching

Daring to Use the Four-Letter Word


Are you a bit shocked, surprised or perhaps even intrigued by my title? There aren’t many words in the English language which are as big and loaded as ‘love’. Outside of religious discussions with known parameters, using the ‘L’ word seems to be fraught with problems. People either tend to overuse it and so devalue its currency or steer clear of it so as to avoid confusion or misrepresentation. I’m not talking about the sentimental, disposable idea of love found in many pop songs and tacky movies. I’m talking about the real deal; the impersonal love which binds us all together. The love which, when you think about it, is the only real source of happiness or fulfilment that a human being can find in this life. Do you see what I mean? It’s impossible to write about love without coming up against really big ideas, feelings and statements. But I’ve started now so I’m going to throw caution to the wind and continue…


It might be a good idea to clarify a bit what the word ‘love’ means to me. The quickest way to sum this up is to quote a beautiful song by Bjork (not all pop songs trivialise love) called ‘All is Full of Love’. When love is not trivialised but is bravely, perhaps even naively, addressed in such a direct and honest way as Bjork does in this song, the result can be profoundly touching. For my purposes here though, I would like to take the liberty of giving this phrase a slight tweak and turn it into ‘All is Made of Love.’ Now you know where I'm coming from.


You may have noticed that one place that I have used the ‘L’ word is in the tag line for this site: Love, Inspiration, Creativity. I suppose this is my way of saying ‘All is Made of Love’. In my job as a picture book maker I see this statement manifested like this: an idea comes out of nowhere and is planted in my head like a seed; I am inspired to water and nurture the seed through creativity and turn it into a picture book. (A flower, if you want to continue the analogy). As far as I am concerned, every step of this chain comes out of love. Not my love, because I am not responsible for the idea, the inspiration or the creativity but perhaps you could say ‘life’s love’. By doing what I do, by creating the book, I am simply partaking in that chain of love. If you really watch any act of creation on your part, can you honestly say that ‘you‘ are doing it any more than a Mother can say she is creating a baby? No, love happens, love creates. Another way to put it would be to say that we are simply the holes in the flute through which the music comes out.


As far as I can remember, I have never used the word love in any of the forty eight or so picture books texts I have written. However, although it never appears, I would say that this word ‘love’ represents the subtext of almost all of my stories. Let me give you some examples: My Friend Bear is about how the loneliness of a bear and boy called Eddy dissolves when they connect and become friends. Hug is not only about the love of a chimpanzee for his Mum (and vice versa) it also touches on the compassion we have for our fellow beings. (The animals who find Bobo cannot rest until they have done what they can to reunite him with his Mother). Some Dogs Do is about happiness, represented by Sid the Dog who is suffused with so much joy that he starts to lift off the ground. Nat the Cat's Sunny Smile (published next spring) is about how Nat’s smile (her love) gets passed onto her friends. I think you get the point - I may not use the word love in my books but the real subject is nearly always love.         


In a way, the book I am writing at the moment approaches the subject of how ‘All is Made of Love‘. I can’t tell you what it’s called because I have no idea yet but I can tell you the idea upon which the story is built. Mimba, a young gorilla, starts to worry about what would happen if the sun didn’t return to the jungle in the morning. She starts chasing after the sun, trying to catch up with it so she can ask it to promise to return. But, as she learns, though night time comes, the sun (love) never really goes away.


So there you are, after avoiding using the four letter ‘L’ word in all my books I have, in one short blog entry, dared to use it twenty seven times! Now I’m going to finish by bringing the total up to thirty.


One of the best parts of my job (apart from when the idea comes to me or when that idea starts to work as a story) is seeing a child connecting with one of my books, for then the cycle is complete. The idea (love as inspiration) has passed through me (love as creativity) and reached its final destination. The final destination, as any parent knows, is love in the form of a child. 

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