Artist-runner writes and draws with a porpoise, self-publishing the first edition of her first book.
Emily Langenberg picked up the copy of the first edition of her first book on Tuesday, December 11.
The book is called Life with a Porpoise. The idea for it was born in a cold, drafty college house late one night with good friend and teammate, Allie Hock, over some Yogi tea about seven years ago.
Yogi tea is the tea with quotes on the tags, and one of theirs said, “The greatest feat in life is to live with a purpose.”
Emily said whoever read it aloud was too cold and mumbled the last word—it came out “porpoise.”
The idea of living life with a porpoise--as a wordplay on and a metaphor for living life with a purpose--was very hilarious to them both, and the idea stuck with Emily.
The first iteration of Life with a Porpoise was a poem and one illustration that Emily gave to Allie as a graduation gift.
Then the idea tucked away.
But this fall, six or seven years after the cold night with the tea, the idea untucked in anticipation of Inktober.
According to its website, Inktober was created in 2009 as a challenge to improve the creators’ inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It’s a month-long drawing challenge where artists create one ink drawing a day during the month of October.
“Anyone can do Inktober,” the website insists, “just pick up a pen and start drawing.”
And after a few very rough years filled with little art-making, Emily was looking for some momentum, so she picked up a pen and started.
“I thought it'd be a fun challenge and way to get drawing on a daily basis again.”
Emily works full-time and doesn’t have lot of time to concentrate on more finely detailed works at the moment, so the pace of Inktober forced her to prioritize the most important parts of each drawing.
For the first time in a long time she wasn’t putting pressure on herself to do the art, she was just having fun.
She said, “It felt like playing.”
Emily is used to displaying only her most polished, finished works. Posting for Inktober and putting something so “loose and vulnerable” out there for public scrutiny was a little scary, she said. It also highlighted an area that’s very difficult for her as an artist—drawing people.
But what she’s learned during the process and the momentum she’s gained made the creative risk worth it.
And people telling her they want the story in book form doesn’t hurt.
At least 30 people replied to her post on Facebook when she asked if anyone would be interested in a copy if she figured out how to print it.
People want to buy multiple copies. People want it for their classrooms. Someone wants at least two copies shipped to Slovakia.
So Emily started getting up at 5 a.m. to go in before work, scan in the files and stumble around in Adobe InDesign preparing a file to be sent to the publishing services at Michigan State University.
And now, months—years really—of hard work later, Emily has the first copy of the first edition of her first book in her hands. She also has a headache and a sinus infection, so she said it’s tempting to joke that it feels “anticlimactic” because of all of the fatigue.
“But no, it feels really good. It's exciting to be able to share my art in one of my favorite mediums, and see others enjoy it or gain inspiration from it,” she said.
“And it feels like only the beginning. Which is even better, ” she added.
Friends are encouraging her to pitch Life with a Porpoise to literary agents, to try and really get it published. But leading up to Christmas Emily said the goal is making the book available for purchase for those who’d like a copy.
“After that,” she said, “I have a new story in mind…”