I gave a copy of my new book to my dear friend and mentor, author Jane Kirpatrick a couple months ago. She thumbed through it's pages and read the acknowlegements in the back of the book while I put the finishing touches on dinner. She walked into the kitchen and gently laid the book down on the counter and said, "I want it autographed please." "Oh, ok," I replied. "I don't have a pen." The thought had never occured to me that she would want it signed. "I do," she said, as she opened up her purse and pulled out a fancy ink pen and laid it on top of the book. "I should have known you'd have one." What do I write in a book for Jane Kirpatrick? I thought. I have known Jane for nearly 30 years, long before her first book "Homestead" but at that moment, I had celebrity-itis. I looked at my mother who was sitting at the counter, she returned my look and smiled. "Can I practice in your copy Momma?" I asked quietly. She slid her copy over in front of me. I uncapped Jane's fancy pen and thought of all the books she had signed using this very pen, then I began to write in my mothers book. The pen flowed across the page faster then my hand could move, like it had a mind of it's own. My thinking fogged and lagged behind the pen as it formed the letters on the page. I don't even remember what I wrote in my mom's book except the word "memories". I remember that word because I mispelled it and had to correct it and it looked awful. My hand shook and my normally decent penmanship looked like a grade-school boy's who'd rather be on recess then practice his cursive. I looked at my mom and pointed at my mistake. She smiled as she picked up her copy and held it lovely in her hands.
I signed Janes copy that day, but much later, after dinner. I waited until I could think of someting heartfelt to say. I don't think I mispelled any words that time but my hand still shook with nerves as I scribbled aross the page and wondered if Jane had felt this way the first time she autographed a book. Since that day, I do a practice run on scrap paper to eliminate any mispelled words and to warm up my hand and my thoughts before I try writing them down. Whatever works, right?
Sherrie Gant is a writer, photographer, and