Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


I’ll show them and then they’ll be sorry!

Did this ever run through your mind when you were misunderstood, under-appreciated, or limited in some way? My mother banked on my spunk. She used reverse psychology to teach me to ride my bike. She bet I couldn’t do it, and I determined to prove her wrong.

Steve Jobs said being fired from Apple was ultimately a good thing. In the midst of that humiliation he realized he still loved his work and wanted to continue anyway.

Earlier in my career I turned in art for a book and the contract was subsequently canceled. The news hit me like a punch in the stomach. I curled in pain. I was so ashamed. Surely everyone in the industry knew about my rejection, I thought. I imagined a scarlet letter across my chest.

There were scrooges involved. I believe this only could have progressed to this point from lack of communication. It has always been my practice to show sample art and work-in-progress. At no point did the art director or editor alert me that they were unhappy. I received comments like, “Add more yellow.”

I was filled with self-doubt after this experience. Who would hire me again? I desperately wanted to get back up on the horse. My next opportunity came like a gift from a fairy godmother. I approached the project in a completely different style and the book garnered three stars, an ALA notable award, and many other accolades. Sound familiar, Stephanie? Yep, the book that brought me back was Elizabeti’s Doll. I am forever grateful to our editor, Liz Szabla.

There is value in disappointment. It helps define weakness, focus attention, and clarify desire.

“One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.”—Henry Ward Beecher


Edie Hemingway said...


What a positive story about the value of disappointment. Congratulations on your subsequent successes and may there be many more to come!

Stephanie said...

I totally use the negativity as motivation. And yay! I consider Elizabeti a blessing for both of us:) ( And I think the award/honor count for ED is around 15 or so...)

Stephanie said...

Oh! And did Jason ever tell you what he told me? That ED was on the short list for the Caldecott that year? I would say you could file that away for the days your ego needs a boost;)

Christy said...

Yes, a Caldecott would be the ultimate comeback. I can still dream.

Mark said...

A very inspiring example of the importance of "getting back on the horse" and continuing to pursue your passion in spite of outside negativity. Thanks Christy!

betsy woods said...

Oh Christy, I love this blog. I empathize with that fist in the stomach-I can't breathe feeling of disappointment and, well, hurt and shock. I love the way you stood up, and approached you work and the stellar outcome, esp. as it was a collaboration between you and Stephanie! I'm inspired and feel at home: thank you.

David LaRochelle said...

The quote is right - those disappointments are sometimes necessary in order for us to reach our successes, but boy, that can be hard to remember! I can imagine that feeling of thinking everyone in the publishing world must know about your rejection. Three cheers for your spunk, Christy!

Lauren said...

Yes, Three Cheers for your spunk, Christy! What a blow. I am not certain I could have recovered the way you did-- Bravo, Brava, and hip hip hurray for all of us who get to read and gaze at your beautiful picture books! And let's hope a Caldecott is waiting behind the curtains for you some day.

Ashley said...

I've not heard this story, C. I know we have all been there and I appreciate your candor in sharing. Love your new site too!