I need time alone to focus on writing and art. I always welcome Mondays for this reason. Most of my "contact" during the week is through e-mail and social networks. I am startled when the phone rings. I like my silence. I too have the company of the family pet. Scratching is the sound of interruption—the cat wants in or out.
The balance to this isolated part of work life comes through critique groups, professional events, and author/illustrator appearances. I have three critique groups, but am particularly thankful for my illustrator critique group. All five of the members are accomplished illustrators; four out of five are also picture book authors. I have worked professionally as an art director, but have not often received very much art direction. I need it! In this illustrator critique group I get extensive, specific feedback on sketch dummies and art in progress, as well as responses to overall picture book story concepts. It is wonderful to have others share my projects, enter in to my vision, help me see my strengths, and give ideas about improving what is still weak. I like being part of this process for others. We have come to be very honest with each other. This trust continues to build over time. The works stand apart from each creator and we are all problem-solvers together.
Presenting in classroom, libraries, museums, bookstores, and other community venues is a wonderful and essential counter to the quiet creation time. This is where I see the response from my intended audience. I like small classroom-sized groups best where I can share the actual original art and the materials I use to create the art. I love the questions. I also really like chances to do hands-on art projects that relate to my books, or projects where kids become authors and illustrators, too.