I Have a Worry by Tanya Balcke

For the Spring Issue of the Bendigo Magazine, I got to sit down with Tanya Balcke, writer and illustrator of the popular children's book I Have a Worry ...and navigator of the self publishing world! Her book struck a chord with me...as I love whimsical illustrations, a story with a practical message for kids, and someone who has the gumption to decide they're going to write and illustrate....AND publish their own book. Plus, she has a pretty cool name ;)

 Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On the inspiration for...

I Have a Worry was inspired by many young children I have taught as a Primary School Teacher. As our lives become busier and move so fast, many children feel pressure from friendships, education and family. This book was written to start the conversations with children about anxiety and hopefully, empower children to address their worries. I Have a Worry was written to help build a child’s skill set when considering a worry. The little purple worry allows the children to think about their problem using a concrete tool. They are then able to ‘give’ this worry to someone else for some time, empowering the child as to whether they will allow the worry to control them or not. The feelings in this book have been shared by the children I have worked with over time.  These are their descriptions of how some worries make them feel.

On the process of writing...

Term 1 school holidays 2015 – I was extremely selfish and spent most of the 2 weeks at my kitchen table illustrating with water colours. I sat down and wrote the story quite quickly, the words just tumbled out and sounded right. I didn’t do too much to the text after the first write, which is quite unusual.  The voice of the story is very naturally how I speak to my children at school, and most of the book is what the children have told me over time so I had no reason to change it.

The hardest part was becoming a self-publisher, as I was independently scanning my paintings into my computer, loading them into a graphics program and compiling it myself, with extremely limited knowledge. Then, sourcing a company that I felt understood the integrity of my story, who could print it and cared about quality. This process took me on a life lesson, learning patience from setbacks, and persistence to believe in the message of my book.

The time frame from what I thought was a finished book, ended up being about 5 months of back and forth emails to my printer who keep pushing me to ‘make it better’. I was very fortunate to find a printer who was patient and expected the best. It was the 48th time I sent my book through that I received the ‘thumbs up’ from them!

 Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On the illustrations...

I would not call myself an artist at all. I am a person who has liked drawing and ‘playing’ with arty things all of my life. To be honest, the illustrations happened due to my inexperience in this world of publishing, and I just felt it was easier if I drew them myself. After I drew the first few, I tested them on my three boys, just casually asking them what they thought. Their response was ‘Yeah, they’re cool Mum,’ which to me meant ‘If the boys were happy, I’m happy.’  I do like the idea that the children are connecting with the simplistic nature of the illustrations.

On the best part...

I don’t think I can narrow it down to one...

  • The personal messages I am receiving daily from parents and children who have received a copy of I Have a Worry and have taken the time to let me know that they have gained something from it, be it, connectedness with each other, the children opening up about their stresses and fears, the recognition that it’s okay to have worries and lots of people do.
  • Showing my three boys that aiming high and following a dream can actually be successful, and that ‘having-a-go’ is the main part of this journey.
  • The incredible support my family and friends have shown me through this experience. When I had my book launch late last year, I honestly thought a few people may turn up. It was truly heart-warming to see so many friends, colleagues and supporters attend on an incredibly wet and cold night to celebrate this book with me.
 Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On what's next...

Super excited about my next two projects that are underway.

  • I Have a Worry Colouring-In Book – currently being printed and should be here and ready to go in about 1 month. This book wasn’t in my original plans, but I have received so much feedback from customers that they would love something like this, that I had to listen and make one. I have made sure that I have made it very personal for the children, as it is quite reflective and encourages children the think and reflect a little deeper about their feelings. The whole original story is there, and also pages of mindfulness and relaxation. It has been designed to complement the original story really well. After they have read the original book, the children can personalize their own copy through the colouring-in book.
  • My Pet Worry – This book is developing really well, and will be available shortly. This book encourages children to take what they learnt through the first book, and think a little more about their worries and developing strategies when dealing with them. My Pet Worry has a very strong voice when speaking about the different sizes of worries. Hopefully, the story will leave the understanding that it’s okay to have small, or large worries, they are all normal. We just need to deal with them differently. As a self-publisher, I am funding each new book with the proceeds from the previous one. My Pet Worry will be sent to print as soon as we can raise the funds through the sale of the other two books.
 Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

Photo supplied by Tanya Balcke

On her favourite thing about living in Bendigo...

Bendigo is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. We have incredible schools, wonderful sporting clubs and organisations, terrific shopping and a community feel that is welcoming and appreciative. There are so many opportunities for success and joy. My favourite thing about Bendigo is the Easter weekend. It brings everyone together in a relaxed way that celebrates our community, with the Dragon Mile and the Easter Parade.

Where can I get these books and support Tanya?

Dymocks, Spring Gully Post Office, Education Plus Bendigo, Strath Village Newsagency and Bookstore, Eaglehawk Post Office and online here.