I have been frustrated of late with authors who become successful and no longer sort through their inboxes and answer mail. This is going to seem unreasonable, I know, because people like JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer & Suzanne Collins get SO MUCH mail that they would never write another word if they took the time to look at and respond to every piece of fan mail they received. I get that. Really, I do.
I just keep thinking that there has got to be some way to make it work. Some way to still thank the people who have made your career possible, the readers. And then there are the aspiring writers who, without fail, will always write long, thoughtful, complimentary letters and ask for advice. Isn't it the duty of successful authors to encourage the next generation of writers along?
When people hear that I have written books (people who previously thought they knew me based off of their own misconceptions) they look at me in a completely different way. They think that writing a book is some sort of mystical, far off thing that only strange old people can accomplish. But there are hundreds of thousands of girls and boys out there writing stories almost as soon as they can write anything. All of their dreams, aspirations, and even nightmares are caught up and flung upon the page for anyone willing to see.
I want you all to know, that when I finally make it, when I am finally successful enough to quit my day job and write full time, I swear to you I will find a way to still read my mail. If I have to employ a secretary, nay two secretaries, I will.
Because readers matter to me. Readers are the people who make my days bright. When I see reviews, or when I listen to someone tell me about one of my books, my entire world just feels like it's lit on fire. It's glowing, and warm, I can feel this burning spreading through my chest and into my outer extremities and I am happy.
Why should any author deny themselves that glorious feeling?
And the few times when I have succumbed, and written to an author, I have received one reply. I don't know if she will ever read this, but this is a huge thank you to Tamora Pierce for responding personally to the email of a very young (16, I believe) Shannon A Hiner with encouraging words. I think about that response often and how grateful I am that she took the time. It wasn't just a couple of words even, but a full letter response.
In thirty years, I want to be that kind of author. She has written dozens of books, is highly successful, and is still down-to-earth enough to respond to one struggling, very young, idealistic writer.