I've gotten a bit immune to the letters I receive in return. They are typically form letters on nice stock, with logos embossed. The text basically says that "I read your letter and here's how I feel about the issue you mentioned." It doesn't actually address what I said or the fact that the person whose signature is down there did not, indeed, read anything. Some intern or lackey did and then used some stock language to build three to five paragraphs and stick an automated signature on the bottom.
In all of this letter writing, though, I have never written a piece of fan mail. And I am a fan. Of many, many things and people. But I never told them for two reasons:
- Why should they care? Millions of people think they are spiffy and me telling them of their spiffiness should not really matter in the least.
- Quit reading my damn letter and write something!
Enter Seanan McGuire.
Seanan writes the October Daye series, the In Cryptid series, the Velveteen short stories, and the Newsflesh series (under the name Mira Grant). She also sings, makes art and blogs. Oh, and none of this is her full time job. The woman does all of this amazing while holding down a day job.
So, basically, she's my hero.
In her blog recently, she wrote about a question she had received from a reader and the reader's "threat" to quit reading if the character didn't do what they wanted her to.
This infuriates me for a couple of reason. First of all, you could crowd-source a book, but why would you? The artist needs to follow whatever method and creativity she normally does. Taking "requests" is for call-in radio shows, not authors. Secondly, I don't understand why readers think that threatening to quit reading is such a great motivator. You are one reader. Get over it and quit acting like you are, single-handedly keeping an author in business.
So, I wrote to her. And I told her I loved her. I told her that I named my Jeep October. I told her that she and Georgia (Newsflesh) and October saved me when I all but quit reading. I told her how much her works means to me.
And, she wrote me back. Just to say thanks.
It wasn't a long email or one that said anything particularly earth-shattering, but I gotta tell you, opening up my email and seeing her name in my list made my little day.
But it also taught me a valuable lesson, or I guess, reminded me of one. Tell people you love them. They need to hear it. They appreciate hearing it. And they don't hear it enough. Tell your favorite author or your favorite band or your favorite movie star that they are your favorite. But, also, tell the really good bag boy at the grocery that he rocks and you really appreciate that he never crushes your bread. Tell the secretary at your dentist's office that her pleasant voice makes your reminder calls less scary. Tell the cop directing traffic outside your kids' school that you appreciate him freezing his butt off.
People need to know that they are good at what they do. And that people see them and appreciate them.