I was going back through photos and found this unused sketch from Kij Johnson’s The River Bank.
This stage of a project is very charming — the snapshots of moments, the hint of movement (or, as here, stillness) and expression. They are usually just notes for myself, but a lot of the work involved in finishing a more formal final illustration is about trying to capture that lightness. (Although when I’m making sketches that will be the final illustrations, there’s a lot of unseen work involved in trying to teach my hand the shapes of what I’ll be drawing).
Something I’m gradually learning with writing is to treat the early stages in a similar way: quick notes on an aesthetic, lists of “lush language” (per Kim Wilkins), just sketching the best bits (including sketching with words) so that the heart and movement is there.
And if you are looking for a pleasant, gentle, sunlit story, with nothing more nefarious than foxes and stoats, written with a deft touch and a loving eye, I highly recommend The River Bank.