Tag Archives: elijahandcrumpet

Let’s make a book!

Have you ever thought about writing a book? Is it on your bucket list? Are you not sure how to start, but intend to find out one day? If you answered “Yes” to all of these, then I know how you feel! Since starting Elijah and Crumpet I have been thinking about doing a book, but there was just never enough time and it kept getting put back on the shelf for another day.

When I first started the YouTube channel, I didn’t have a clue about YouTubing, but the advice I learned from watching my first ‘So you want to be a YouTuber’ video was to JUST GET STARTED! I chanced upon a group of video creators with the hashtag #nosmallcreator which had been started by Cody Wanner in the U.S.A. and so I started to network. One of the group was Andy Marshall from South Australia, who was vlogging about a career change. He wanted to become an illustrator and was showing how he created the artwork for his own children’s book project.

I liked the cartoon style and, since collaborations are an important part of growing a channel, I reached out in April and asked if Andy wanted to draw Crumpet. Andy was up for the challenge and I was blown away by what he produced! Here it is:

Now, I have read thousands of kids books over the years and my favourite are the rhyming ones. Dr Seuss are the classics but I like the more modern ones (The Gruffalo, Stickman) even more. Elijah loves to finish off the sentences and so rhyming sentences have been great for developing his memory recall skills. I also like to write songs and I find rhyming quite easy, so I began to get some poems onto paper.

Later on I did an Instagram live chat (as Crumpet) with Andy, for his Creator Chat project. When you engage with someone in this way, you get to know them, or at least you feel like you do. If they are genuine and tell their story, over time the trust builds. One day I was listening to Andy talking about having to mow lawns to get some money coming in. It was the end of August and we were about to appear on national T.V. for the second time. It came to me that we could work as a team on a series of books. I could provide Andy with paid work as an illustrator and he could help us get the book done. I sent an Instagram DM (Direct Message) to Andy and he thought the idea was great. He was in.

Neither of us had any experience in doing this, but we both had the motivation to make it work. We both knew from learning to do YouTube videos and other things that problems are not barriers, just hurdles you have to navigate (jump or, as I used to, push over), so we looked up contracts, figured out some pricing, came up with a plan which also allowed Andy to continue documenting his journey … and we had a deal. Contracts signed.

Finally, I found podcasts. I know, I’m a bit behind in many regards! Take Instagram, for example – I didn’t know how to use it a year ago, but I am very willing to learn and now we have over 4,000 followers and try to post daily! So listening to podcasts on my hour drive to work and back, I learned about self-publishing and then about crowdfunding. More research online followed and I decided that the best way to reach more people would be to run a Kickstarter campaign.

If we had backers, we would not have to settle for the cheaper paperback and we could also engage with these backers, adding in fun bonus perks like stickers, drawings, videos and special offers, like the chance to appear in our books! If we were funded, we could really advocate for disability and inclusion by getting our message out there, with free books to influencers, plus reaching out to schools, libraries and the media. More about self-publishing and crowdfunding in later blogs and emails (please sign up).

And here we are, with our first book underway. Andy has completed Stage 1, which is the style guide. We needed to be happy with the representation of Elijah (Crumpet was easy as it was already done). The brief was to ensure that Elijah was recognisable, but still in cartoon style rather than a true-to-life image. As you can see below from Andy’s Instagram account @andycmarshall, over time it came together.

The text has been completed, so the next stage is to finish off the storyboard, which we have already outlined. Then the final page illustrations will begin. In the meantime, the text for book 2 is also done, but we’ll keep that one under wraps for now!

Thanks for visiting. Please click FOLLOW to receive notifications about the next Blog. I will try to write two a week, but timings may vary. It would be good if you could sign up for email updates (see link at top) – then we can email updates to the Kickstarter campaign directly to your inbox (if you really want to get behind the project, you could then resend to all of your own contacts!)

Practice Makes Perfec.

People often ask me where I find the time to make all the YouTube videos. Well, it’s a combination of giving up other activities, like reading or watching television, not sleeping and practice. I love the title of this blog, ‘Practice Makes Perfec’ for 3 reasons:

  1. Elijah can say ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ in German!
  2. It’s so true.
  3. Well done, you spotted it – it’s no mistake, the ‘t’ is missing for a good reason.

Before I go into a bit more depth on each of these, let’s cover off the sleeping and free time parts.

We all like to put our feet up after a long, hard day of kids, work, cooking, cleaning and the general busy-ness of life. I’ve been doing it for years now (about 29, no I’m not 29 … since I was 18)(I’m 47), so I know how to zonk and do nothing. Turn on the T.V. or, more recently, the iPad. With Netflix, YouTube and our beloved apps, it’s hard to resist choosing to be entertained and letting time pass. But it’s only by giving up these things and redirecting that time into Elijah and Crumpet that I am able to keep up the content creation.

Next sleep, or lack of it. Luckily I have always been high energy and able to operate with less sleep. Now, I know that it’s healthier to have 8 hours of sleep (I hear it a lot from my wife), but if I can get by with less, I get more done. So I sacrifice 2 of those 8 hours, use the time to create something which will last forever, and hope that I don’t get woken up by kids or cats in the night!

Now the 3 reasons in more detail:

Yes, Elijah can say Practice Makes Perfect in German – you’ll hear it on some of our videos when Elijah is demonstrating his language skills! It started when I thought I would see if he could remember another language. I had studied languages at university, so I believed that if Elijah could learn to speak English, he should be able to speak a second language. I wanted to test my belief because I did not know if having a learning disability would cause some ‘switching languages link’ in the brain to be missing (no, you don’t get any correct medical terminology from a languages graduate!)

Hear Elijah speaking German and Welsh!

Well, he was happy saying the phrase and then, days later when I asked him, he remembered it. In case you are now intrigued, it’s ‘Ubung macht den Meister’ (no umlauts (two dots) as I don’t have a German keyboard) which literally translates as ‘Practice makes the Master’. This became Elijah’s amazing memory party piece and opened the door to bigger goals.

And so it is with our YouTube video journey. In the picture you can see our early videos. I took the advice from a ‘How to get started on YouTube’ video … and we just started. We put the hours in (Elijah for the filming hour and me for the other 6 hours of editing) and pushed out videos from 4 September 2018, reaching 70 before the year was out. Then another push to make sure we had over 100 before we got on Channel Nine’s The Today Show. I went from zero experience on video editing using Adobe Premier Pro to ‘not bad’ (according to Thomas, our other son) so I’ll take that as a compliment! Trial and error, frustration with forgetting how to fix the problem I fixed last time it happened, losing all my work because I forgot to save and the blasted thing crashes … all of these. But over time, my speed improved and I got back some sleep. Perfec!

Nice segway – if you have watched our earlier videos, you will have seen the sign on the wall behind us saying ‘Practice Makes Perfec’ . The idea of the sign came from watching other YouTubers, with their inspirational quotes on the walls behind. Originally it said the correct ‘Practice Makes Perfect’, but one day I printed it off with an error to have fun with Elijah, to see if he spotted it. In the video you see he does, so it made for good filming.

Practice Makes Perfec sign (go to 2 min 10)

But then the phrase took on another meaning, as in most things, we aim for perfection, but never really get there. That could be work, relationships, our garden, hobby or meal. There is always room for improvement, so the missing ‘t’ symbolises just that. We need to be happy just getting to where we get to, with what we have achieved through our hard work, not worried about what we have not done.

The idea then spread to the world we entered when Elijah joined us – the world of disability. We experienced first hand the challenges that are present in society, which is unfortunately still struggling to get past the ‘f’ on its journey to being ‘Perfec’. The thought that ‘nobody is perfect’ is secondary in most marketing and advertising strategies. It’s all about the perfect life, perfect house, perfect physical and mental health (although thankfully we are finally more open about mental health issues). To be accepted and valued with a disability, what does that look like? How does society value people it considers ‘not perfect’? It’s a debate unto itself which I will undoubtedly discuss further in later blogs. For now, keep practising at whatever you are doing and Elijah, what’s Practice makes Perfect in German? (Elijah:) “Ubung macht den Meister!” Thanks for joining us 🙂 Rob