Posted by: jeannineatkins | September 14, 2007

Faith in ourselves, Faith in each other

A while back I was signing at an author event while watching Jeanne Birdsall autograph The Penderwicks across the room. I loved that novel, the fresh, funny, real characters, who just slightly shadowed those in Little Women. The heft of each sentence was perfect. The novel was fun without being fluffy. When activity after my table flagged (okay, quite a bit after) I went over to introduce myself and tell Jeanne how much I’d loved her book.

“But we met!” she said.

It all came back, well not all, but a feeling of how when I’d picked up the book the name was familiar. It couldn’t be that woman who years before I’d talked to at another book event? We’d both gone alone, and while I’m naturally shy, children’s book lovers are not the most formidable crowd. I ended up talking with someone who told me a story rather as familiar as a fairy tale. She wrote a book, submitted it to editors, waited, and waited, and waited. When things looked, at last, like a go, she revised, and waited again, revised, and waited. Then – did you guess how this would end? The manuscript was sent back. This nice woman was feeling pretty down.

Of course I hadn’t read a word she’d written, but I could tell she was good with words. I assured her that something that had been that doted over for so long was worth returning to. That what had happened to her book was about bad luck, not bad writing, in a business that can be brutal.

I went home and pretty much forget about this conversation, until I stood again with Jeanne Birdsall with stacks of her beautiful blue and white book now between us. (That I had forgotten her wonderful name goes to show how entrenched my name-forgetting is.) She thanked me for giving her hope in a hard time. Which was no big deal. Just what others have done for me, what I expect Jeanne does for others. “Keep going,” we say. It’s not over yet. Pass it on.



  1. This is a *great* story!

  2. Jeanne Birdsall
    I had a wonderful Jeanne Birdsall moment earlier this year, too. She is a gem!
    (You can read about my Jeanne experience here:
    Loree Burns

  3. Re: Jeanne Birdsall
    Loree, that is a terrific story, full of fun and generosity. (I do love the bit about Jeanne sitting on the floor amonst them, but a first grade teacher friend with starting-to-ache bones has cautioned me that there is a place for rocking chairs, too).
    Thanks for making the link!
    It is so great when people whose work we love are equally amazing, and, really, that is usually the case. My husband who works in a less gentle world cannot get over our wonderful community.

  4. Wow about covers it. 🙂

  5. This is so lovely. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Wow! What an awesome story . . .
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. What a wonderful story with a perfect ending.

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