Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Letter of Gratitude

I did something I've always considered terribly silly and somewhat uncomfortable today.

I wrote AND mailed a fan letter to one of my favorite authors, Ursula K. Le Guin. I was introduced to her writing in high school in 1985 and have been a reader ever since. Novels, poetry, short stories, even commentary and translation -- her words just resonate with me. They made me think about the world in a different way as a teen and continue to inspire me. Even when I reread things I continue to learn from them and about myself through them.

I've never actually written anyone a fan letter before. I always felt kind of silly. Even meeting a handful of authors I really like* and once or twice a musician I felt painfully awkward. Not that I don't see these people as human or that I'm entirely at ease meeting people. I feel generally awkward meeting people in general, when I talk with someone who's art has deeply affected me the everyday uncomfortable feeling gets turned up to 11, as it were. To try and put it into words... well, I feel like some babbling fool.

It also feels as though I'm being a bother, an imposition. I run into this one a lot, actually. The feeling as though I'm worthy of the attention of someone I admire in any way.

Why write a letter? Well, there's a certain element of 'why not?' in the answer. A few other things too... I've never had the opportunity to meet Ms. Le Guin or even hear her speak. She's rather reclusive and even though I've been a fan for mover half my life & live in the same city, it just never has happened. As I approach 40 years it occurs to me that, since neither she nor I have halted the aging process, I should actually let go of feeling foolish and just offer my gratitude.

What I said to her in the letter that I had come to understand that in holding back from writing the letter, in listening to the voice of my Inner Critic, that I was denying both of us the pleasure of my gratitude. It isn't as if Ms. Le Guin will find it overly tiresome to receive one more letter thanking her for her writing. Even though it feels a little awkward still I am glad I took the time to share my gratitude.

*Of the authors I have met in person I must say that Neil Gaiman has always been the most cordial of them all and an absolute delight to chat with even if only for a moment. I've been very grateful to be present for hearing him read from his work -- wonderful, marvelous experience!

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