My grandson wrote a fan letter to an author recently. Without my urging. It was his own idea, conceived as he sat in the back seat of my car as we took him to a music lesson. He composed it on his get-him-occupied-so-he-and-his-sister-don’t-fight-and drive-me-off-the-road-or-crazy notebook. There was distress on his part because of the bumpy roadway, but he wrote at stoplights. Here is what he said:
Dear Mary Pope Osborne (of the Magic Treehouse Series)I read almost all your books. Anyway it would be nice if you made a SHOW. And if you do could I be Jack?
He then added a phone number, his name, and his age….seven.
Now I love this letter because of its joie de vivre and its insouciance. I like that word, insouciance. It means light-hearted unconcern. He just assumes that he can be Jack. I need insouciance as I polish this draft of my next novel. Dear powers that be, it would be nice if this got finished, got published, and if it does, can I be a real writer?
Some part of me frets me to pieces with comparisons to past work––it isn’t as good as what I wrote last or first or inbetween––and with nags that I’m taking too long (who is measuring?). I know myself well enough now to know that if I had a constant feeding tube of praise and adulation, it wouldn’t be enough. Writing taps into my fears on a subterranean level, and so I use a spiritual practice, of which awareness and detachment are a piece, to keep me sane and keep me writing or whatever I have to do to make my living. But I am not at light-hearted unconcern, and I like it when I see it.
Here’s to my grandson, who wrote an author because he liked her books and who knows without a doubt that he can be Jack if they will just make a SHOW.