When I was a little girl many many many years ago, I was a big fan of the television show “Wonder Woman.” I adored Lynda Carter’s character so much that I wrote a fan letter to her. I haltingly scratched out a message of adulation with my Crayola markers on a piece of construction paper, and my mother mailed it to the television studio. A few months later, I received an autographed photograph of Carter in her Wonder Woman costume. I was thrilled, to say the least.
As an adult, I don’t write many fan letters to celebrities, real or fake. Okay, I don’t write any fan letters at all. But every once in awhile, I’m tempted to write something similar to a fan letter: a letter to the author of a book that really touches me or resonates with me. I felt that way after reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake a few years ago. I just finished reading Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand’s non-fiction account of Olympian and WWII POW Louie Zamperini, and I felt like writing to her and saying, “Thank you SO much for writing this” when I closed the book.
So what’s stopping me? A fear of looking like a dork? The usual time and pressure crunches? Not sure if my message would even make it to the author? Yes, yes, and yes.
But you know what? I think I need to get over myself. Who doesn’t want to read nice things about themselves? As a journalist, I have always treasured words of praise from my readers. When I was a newspaper reporter, I used to print out the emails in which people thanked me for writing a story that touched them, and every once in awhile, I’d go back and reread them. They always perked me up when I was feeling down.
My five-year-old son is currently addicted to The Magic Tree House series of books by Mary Pope Osborne. He can’t get enough of them. So I asked him if he’d like to write a letter to Osborne and tell her how much he’s enjoying them. His face lit up. “Yes!” he shouted. Then he reconsidered. “But I can’t really write,” he said, frowning. I told him that I’d do the writing; he just had to tell me what he wanted to say. So we’re going to do it.
Why not tell a writer how glad we are that she’s writing something? Have you ever read something so terrific that you want to write a fan letter to the author?