Posted by: jeannineatkins | September 16, 2008

Sometimes Luck and Joy

I’ve been feeling worried to hear accounts of friends being in hard spots with their writing. Reaching walls, sometimes pounding them, then asking: why am I spending days at this desk anyway, when I could be… x and y? Will anyone care?

All I can do, really, is wish them a way through this rotten place where I’ve been, too, even though right now, there’s not so much banging my head on said desk.

Walking through Amherst the other day, I ran into an illustrator acquaintance and we talked for a bit. You know that leaning in we sometimes do with people in the business, when “How are things going?” doesn’t mean family or health but what’s happening on the page or canvas.

“Good,” I said. “How about for you?”

His shoulders sank slightly as he told me how he’d thought he was 95% of the way through a book, but just got a note from the editor who informed him: no. There was quite a way to go. I commiserated, until he asked again about me, and I told him about working with an editor whose letter was filled with questions that made me see: yes, of course there’s a hole there, sheesh, how did I miss that?, yes, that’s not just confusing but totally opaque, and finally: I can fix this.

He nodded and said, sincerely, I believe: “I really needed to hear that. I wanted to know that someone is happy with what they’re doing.”

I don’t think he thought I was flaunting happiness. And I hope you don’t think I am either, but that it is good to know that sometimes in this often crazy business of children’s books, things do work out.



  1. Good reminder – I love what I’m doing and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. And really, if it was easy and smooth, would we really want to keep doing this? (Maybe…!) xoxo

  2. Debbi — easy and smooth? Um, sounds pretty good!
    But I guess all of us know that’s not how things work. Even now in a “good place” it’s not like every day is peaches and cream, but more that I can see my way to an ending I feel confident about, so am content to stumble toward it. And of course these things can fall right out from under you.
    I’m glad you love what you’re doing!

  3. It is good to hear. Hard to relate to but heartening nonetheless.

  4. No, we DO need to hear. That’s what’s so wonderful about the blogs–we do get the real picture, the ups and downs. We know we’re not alone when it gets bad and we get to rejoice and feel hope when it gets good.
    And it will get better for your friend.

  5. I’ve been in both positions, the ups, the downs…. I guess it’s the ups that keep me going through the downs – and finding friends who can honestly commiserate. Great post.

  6. He’s right. We do need to hear that. Thank you for making it possible for more of us to do so.

  7. Linda, I hope more turns upward for you soon, even spiraling upwards.

  8. Yes, they don’t call this a journey, with twists, turns, bumps, potholes for nothing. Good luck with yours!

  9. Thank goodness for those commiserating friends. It’s a good career and challenge, but not easy.

  10. Thank you so much for these words!

  11. Thanks for sharing this story, Jeannine.
    It goes to the heart.

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