In the late sixties, I was trying to be a writer. The best of my achievements was that I did have an agent. But I was also doing many other things. Among such things was a cartoonist; not as an artist, but a doodler. So it was that I doodled a bunch of humorous note cards (which were published) at a time when such was somewhat unusual.
A friend of mine announced she wanted to write a book for kids, and would I illustrate it. Her work was some kind of non-fiction, for which my art was, in fact, completely inappropriate. Regardless, I said, “I’m not an artist, but if you want to show what I do along with your idea, go ahead.”
My friend took her work (and mine) to a publisher and showed off her idea. The editor said, “I’m not interested in your book, but have the illustrator call me. I like his work.”
“I’d love you to illustrate a book.”
“I’m not an artist. I’m a writer.”
“Well then, write a book, illustrate it, and send it to me.”
I put together a collection of short tales I had made up for my eldest son, Shaun, then three. I illustrated them and sent them in.
She called, “You’re correct. You’re not an illustrator, but I like your book. I’d like to publish it.”
We made a date to meet in two weeks.
Day before the meeting, she called. “I just got fired,” she said. “Sorry. Good luck with your book.”
My agent took the manuscript and after, I think, seven rejections, it sold to Doubleday.
Its publishing history was awkward. Three editors. One retired. One got another job. Third one did the best she could.
The book was published in 1970.
It received pretty bad reviews.
In 2002, the book was picked up by another publisher, slightly rewritten, and had new illustrations.
Got good reviews.
First book. Still in print.
It is one of those Things That Sometimes Happen, which is the title of the book.