Mom, musician and writer Jessie Veeder talks about her inspiration and more – InForum

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FARGO — Jessie Veeder started writing a children’s book years before she had children of her own.

Ten years ago, when Veeder and her husband, Chad, moved from Montana to the family ranch in Veeder, western North Dakota, she spent that first summer discovering a place again. familiar as she contemplated what her new life on the ranch would be like.

The result of this freedom was a poem she wrote from the perspective of herself as a young girl living on the ranch.

“We thought we would come back to retirement age because we thought in the 90s that we had to leave to be successful,” Veeder explained. “So that first summer, I was starting to recharge and get in touch with the real me.”

After completing the poem, Veeder enlisted a friend’s young daughter to model for possible art to accompany the poem, and the child was a little girl with blond hair and blue eyes.

Fast forward a few years: Veeder and her husband (dark hair and brown eyes) welcomed a daughter with blonde hair and blue eyes. As they began to read children’s books to their daughter, Veeder thought back to that poem she had hidden, wondering if it could be something more meaningful, like a children’s book.

Jessie Veeder tells the audience how artist Daphne Johnson-Clark spent 50 to 100 hours painting each of the 24 images used in “Prairie Princess.” Veeder then hired a professional photographer to photograph the artwork so it could be used in the book.

Danielle Teigen / In the minds of mothers

Knowing she had the reference photos, Veeder pondered how the poem could be brought to life through images. “I had always envisioned ‘Prairie Princess’ as art,” she said.

Through Veeder’s work at the Long X Arts Foundation, which Veeder founded to provide arts programming in McKenzie County, she knew of many talented artists who could bring her vision to life. But an artist named Daphne Johnson Clark stood out.

“She’s a humble artist who paints every day, and she portrays rural life and ranch life in such a beautiful way,” Veeder explained. “She knows what life on a ranch is like here in the heart of the country, that it shows the families and all the members of this family that they are doing the job.”

Although Johnson Clark had never illustrated a book before, she signed and worked with Veeder on what the images would look like. And this little baby with blonde hair and blue eyes had grown up to serve as the perfect inspiration for the new artwork. Veeder’s daughter, Edie, now 6, even added her own personality, insisting that a prairie princess would wear a pink tutu in addition to her jeans, cowboy hat and jumpsuits. boots.

And “Prairie Princess” was on.

When Veeder sat down at a Fargo cafe in late January, she was at the end of a busy book tour that took her across North Dakota to talk about how her children’s book came to life. She shared that the pandemic nearly derailed the project due to Johnson Clark’s day job as a public health professional. Veeder also dealt with her own personal disruption thanks to a cancer diagnosis which she successfully overcame (although it certainly set back progress at times).

Through it all, Veeder reflected on her journey home and how grateful she was to be where she should be. “Ten years ago I thought I would be doing vacation tours, and I had no idea then that I could live in the middle of nowhere and have a creative career,” Veeder said. “But this is my life – it’s built around the threads you follow and all the things you do and experience…how cool is it that I can do this?”

Although Veeder didn’t realize when she returned to her family’s ranch how her life was going to shape up, she already knew back then that music and telling important stories would also be a part of her life.

“Chad and I moved to Missoula after we got married, and I didn’t write a single song there; it wasn’t my place,” Veeder explained. “When I got back to the ranch, I found my spark again.”

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Jessie Veeder reads “Prairie Princess” to the public during a presentation and creative workshop at the Fargo Public Library.

Danielle Teigen / In the minds of mothers

His love of music and storytelling also carries over to the next generation of breeders through his daughters, 4-year-old Edie and Rosie. Edie loves performing and Veeder shared that Rosie asks her to be in a band with her every day. And don’t ask them if they want to grow up to be singers – both girls insist they already are. Edie even joins her mother on one of the tracks on Veeder’s 2020 album, “Playing Favorites.”

As far as the children’s book goes, girls are typical kids. “They love everything about them! Veeder joked. She shared that after it was posted, she brought “Prairie Princess” to Edie’s kindergarten class to read, and Edie was thrilled that her classmates could get a glimpse of her ranch life. “She said they didn’t believe she was a cowgirl,” Veeder said.

While “Prairie Princess” is certainly a great story about the beauty of growing up on a ranch, the book also offers an opportunity to teach kids (and parents or grandparents) the importance of caring for the land. and the animals that live there.

“In my mind, the book is art being a chance to talk about agriculture,” Veeder said. “It’s another step towards connecting with kids after connecting with adults through my column and my music…it’s a way for (parents and grandparents) to connect what they know and love. with a child.”

During his reading stops, Veeder integrated a creative workshop to give children and adults the opportunity to consider their favorite place and create an image that represents it.

“It’s a lesson and learning to be part of the places you love and be proud of it,” Veeder said. “That’s how I was raised. My dad told me not to apologize where you’re from because it’s an interesting part of you.”

And now where Veeder is from is part of his profession. Talk about full circle. But she wasn’t done either. Veeder shared that she’s been working on another children’s book, this one more focused on her youngest daughter, Rosie, and how she solves a problem with the help of her pony.

She will continue to work with the arts foundation, and Veeder shared that her family will begin construction this spring on event space at the ranch. They already have a cabin where people stay, but they want to be able to house more people on the land they love so much. “We want to welcome people into our home and give them that experience,” she said. “There aren’t many natural places left in the world, but we want to share what we can.”

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Two young participants unleash their creativity during the workshop portion of Jessie Veeder’s book event at the Fargo Public Library on January 30.

Danielle Teigen / In the minds of mothers

Veeder continues to promote “Prairie Princess” and her album statewide and will do so through the summer. You can purchase a copy on its website or at local bookstores such as Ferguson Books and More in West Fargo, Grand Forks, and Bismarck; Zandbroz in Fargo; as well as in Williston stores and online at Dakota Book Net.

If you’d like Veeder to stop by a school or community event to read the book and lead her creative workshop, contact her at [email protected]

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