Willow Willpower: it’s your time! 

By Sarah Cannata

Rewind two years ago and there I was. Walking along the same old slab of concrete I walk along daily; aware of the road noise but not really paying much attention. Listening to music but thinking of a thousand different other things. I’d just started my own professional writing business and my mind was racing… how do I generate new clients? What if it all goes belly up? I’d just lived through a pretty disastrous short period of my life where a great job opportunity fizzled out. I could live without experiencing another setback career-wise.

Walking is definitely my thing

It’s something that rain, hail or shine, I need to do each day. Two years ago, as I turned the corner to take the shortcut back home, a name popped into my head: Willow Willpower.

To this day…

I have no idea where it came from, but straight away, there was something about it that I loved. The first thing I did was text message my mum to ask her what she thought of the name. As a writer, I have been guilty of quite a few creative bombs in my time (as we all are). This idea felt different. When my mum messaged back that she liked it, instead of turning the corner to head home, I turned the corner to head down to my local library.

Our local library is undoubtedly one of the highlights of our area. It’s newish, big, has internet access and everything a writer starting her own business might need. That day, I walked past everything, and went straight to the library’s picture book section. I spent a good 10 minutes just standing there still, taking in the view. What I couldn’t see had me bouncing out of that library and power walking home.

My promise

I promised myself that whatever happened, Willow Willpower would be a character who’s front and centre in a story that celebrates girls and women everywhere. I promised myself that even if Willow was never published, if a young child stumbled upon her story on my laptop long after I was gone, it would inspire and dare that child to dream and believe in their story.

I’ll be honest…

It’s been a long journey since Willow first popped into my head up to today, where I feel incredibly proud to have with eco-friendly book company, blOOturtle Publishing. Being given the opportunity to collaborate with creative people who can see my vision, is priceless as an author.

What makes blOOturtle Publishing so special is their trOOblOO program, which is based on the notion that thinking kids and thinking planet go hand-in-hand. We need to provide tomorrow’s leaders with two very important things, knowledge and a healthy planet. All picture books printed via trOOblOO meet globally recognised eco-friendly production standards. This sees the publishing company using a zero-emission-printer in a “Plus” energy production facility ensuring energy efficiency, energy production and energy recycling. Additionally, all books are printed with vegan ink, recycled paper and are carbon neutral. The trOOblOO symbol indicates the picture book has been printed according to the standards of the program.

Climate change

Having learned about the devastating impacts of climate change, signing with an eco-friendly publisher is important to me. I’ve written about the impacts of climate change and its already devastating toll on people living in disadvantaged parts of the world. It’s up to us to do our bit for future generations.

Any writer will tell you that often…

Manuscripts change and evolve as part of the writing journey and Willow Willpower is no different. I’ve honestly lost count of the number of times I’ve written and re-written this picture book. (You’d think it would be easier with less words to work with but it’s actually more challenging.) Each time, I know it has grown stronger, and I’ve never grown frustrated with the process.

There have been many ups and downs in trying to bring this character to life. There have been times when I wanted to give up. But I haven’t because even at the most random moments when I had serious things on my mind, Willow would pop back up and remind me that her story isn’t finished yet. However I grew as a person and woman largely because of my business and the choices that I made. Willow never left.

Big Magic

I’ve recently just finished reading Big Magic, written by Elizabeth Gilbert. She writes about ideas and how sometimes, it’s just not the right time for a certain idea to be fleshed out and to see the light of day. This really struck a nerve with me because I can relate with Willow – it’s never been her time before but now, it’s her time to shine.

Willow Willpower dreams of becoming a pilot when she grows up so that she can see the world. And what better time to get this story out there when we’re starting to see women making waves in the aviation industry. Women such as Eva Claire Marseille, Eser Aksan Erdogan, Lindy Kats, Maria Fagerström and Alejandra Manríquez are using Instagram to share their journey as pilots.

I’ll leave you with these words from Marseille:

“The distance between dreams and reality is called discipline.”

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You can also find out when the book will be available by following blOOturtle on Facebook or Instagram.

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