Posts tagged with "fan letter" - Faerye Net 2008-09-15T10:59:28+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Write a fan letter, I dare you 2008-09-15T10:59:28+00:00 2008-09-15T11:16:05+00:00 <p>In my very limited experience of publishing (one story, baby! As a former teacher says, &#8220;In jazz, we say as long as you&#8217;ve been paid once, you&#8217;re a professional.&#8221;), fan letters are splendid little bombs of joy. I use the term &#8216;fan letter&#8217; generally: obviously, having published only one story, I cannot receive &#8216;fanatic&#8217; missives declaring how the writer has read all the kajillion stories I&#8217;ve written et c. et c. Also, they weren&#8217;t paper. I received a few e-mails around the time of my publication, one from a fellow writer and a couple from readers, saying they read and enjoyed my story. One chap said he hoped I published again soon.</p> <p>Is it necessary to describe how thoroughly my day was made by these things? When I saw my name in print &#8211; in <em>Asimov&#8217;s Science Fiction</em> no less &#8211; I felt the world would change. As I&#8217;m fond of quoting, I felt &#8220;Perhaps there may be golden trumpets!&#8221; But there were not, of course, as my more rational mind predicted. I still went to Queequeg&#8217;s every day, encountered the same scammers and scallywags, rejoiced if the weekly tip haul worked out to $1.60 an hour. What those e-mails told me was that I had been heard. Which, after all, is half of why we do this, right? Otherwise we&#8217;d all be Emily Dickinson, content to hoard our scribblings. When you&#8217;ve been heard, the world <em>has</em> changed. Your words are part of the internal universes of those who&#8217;ve read it, and knowing that, you feel changed as well.</p> <p>I hadn&#8217;t thought about it that deeply, or for a while, when I read the <a href="" target="links">September 2008 issue</a> of <em>Fantasy &amp; Science Fiction</em> the other day. The novella in it, &#8220;Arkfall&#8221; by Carolyn Ives Gilman, was wonderful. An intriguing setting, a compelling character conflict, and soon enough a fascinating plot. I enjoyed it immensely, not only for those separately listed elements, but for the way they interacted and informed each other. It was a beautifully balanced thing that caught the imagination and heart.</p> <p>And so, when I put the magazine down (always a sign of a good story: you can&#8217;t go on ravenously to the next), I wondered if I should look up the author and send her a note. I never would have considered this last year, but for some reason the idea did arise, and I couldn&#8217;t dismiss it. <em>I&#8217;d feel so foolish!</em> I thought. <em>What would I say?</em> Some slightly less gushy version of what appears above between &#8216;An&#8217; and &#8216;heart&#8217;, obviously. <em>But why should I suddenly start sending appreciative e-mails?</em> The answer to this one was just as obvious: because now I know what a difference it makes. I also told myself that sci-fi has a more collegial atmosphere, and it wasn&#8217;t really that odd to send a spec-fic author a note &#8211; very much of the spec-fic culture. (I don&#8217;t actually know if the literary mainstream engages in this note-writing activity or not, since I won&#8217;t be published in it until next summer &#8211; anyone want to enlighten me?)</p> <p>So I sat down and searched up her e-mail, wrote her a note, and pressed &#8216;send&#8217;. And you know what? She did appreciate it. Even widely published authors want to know they&#8217;re heard. I don&#8217;t know whether it made her day, but it sounds like it brightened it. So next time you read a story in a magazine that really strikes you, that you can&#8217;t stop thinking about, hang up your self-consciousness on a peg and write a fan letter. It&#8217;s a simple way to spread a little happiness in the world.</p> <p><em>For fun, I formalized the rules I made up for myself before writing the aforementioned e-mail: <a href="">here they are</a>.</em></p>