Mighty Life List
Apr 24 2013

Thank a Writer Project: News! Excerpts! Winner!

This month Nathan Bransford and I kicked off Go Mighty’s Thank a Writer Project by writing thank you notes to our favorite authors. You can join in at any time by adding “Thank my favorite authors” to your Go Mighty Life List, and tagging your letters with “thankawriter.”

My first note of this project was to author Thomas Lynch. The other day, a package arrived in the mail, containing a few books. They were all by Lynch, and I didn’t remember ordering them. At first I was perplexed, and then as I read the byline on each book, my heartbeat quickened. I looked at the envelope’s return address. Above the address, the name “Lynch.”

Thomas Lynch sent me three of his books, each signed with an inscription. Does that gesture not unhinge your jaw? My favorite is, “Maggie, Hoping you are ‘still deciding what kind of grownup to be.’ -T”

Lovely, right? It affected me.

I was in college before I realized that writers were just regular people, with flaws and doubts and worries, and therefore I could potentially become a writer one day myself. But apparently I still put writers I admire in a different category, one more rarified than “human.” That envelope, that handwritten return address, was a nice reminder.

The launch of our Thank a Writer Project is coming to a close, but I read all of your letters, and laughed at this story by Megan H, which perfectly sums up how I felt every time I sat down to write one of these notes. What I Said vs. What I am Naturally Inclined to Say. Here are excerpts from a few more of my favorite thank yous on Go Mighty:

Jenny Stockton thanking Sharon G. Flake: “During the one summer that I taught summer school, I had a boy in my class who had never finished a book. He was headed to 8th grade and told me, with an air of boastfulness, that he’d never made it all the way through a book. I gave him Bang! and, after a few days, watched as he started settling in for silent reading immediately when the time came. The day he finished reading your book, he sneakily glanced at me to get my attention, then gave me a silent head nod to let me know he’d finished.
It was one of the proudest moments I’ve ever experienced.”

Vera Hough to Joan Didion: “I want to thank you for so vividly bringing to life both the ordinary — the daily viewing of a TV show shared with your husband — and the extraordinary, the way that one’s husband can suddenly cease to be.”

Elizabeth Anderson thanking J.K. Rowling: “I remember perfectly when and how I was introduced to Harry Potter: Ericka Marshall’s seventh birthday party. It was also my first time drinking Faygo pop and watching ‘Scooby Doo on Zombie Island’ (which is a terrifying movie when you’re only seven). We found giant slugs in the purple turtle-shaped sandbox in the backyard, and I talked to the family parakeet while everyone else played Twister, because I like animals more than games.”

Shellie F thanking Pam Houston: “Your books have been my road maps along the way. When the road gets hard (when I spend too much time focusing on plot, on publication, or even just stringing two sentences together) I pull out one of your books and remember why I want to write.”

Donna Marie Tyree thanking Mo Willems: “You see, both of my children are adopted from foster care and they have asked similar questions. ‘Why did I move fourteen times?’ ‘Why did it take so long for me to be adopted?’”

Indu Muralidharan thanking Subramaniya Bharati: “It has been over ninety years since you passed. Your songs are still read, cherished, sung and loved by both the finest classical musicians as well as the semi literate peasants – like all great artists, you belong to everyone. I admire the way you continue to live and breathe through your verse.”

And finally, congratulations to Vera Hough who won the first six books in the Penguin Classics Dropcap Series designed by Jessica Hische! Thanks for participating, Vera.

Huge thanks to Nathan for doing the project with us. You deserve your own author thank you note from me, and a round of drinks to boot.

The project will continue on Go Mighty, so do join in. Have you ever told a writer that they made a book that touched you? If not, I hope you’ll do it right now. Maybe it will remind them how much they want to write another one.

2 Responses to “Thank a Writer Project: News! Excerpts! Winner!”

  • Lauren Says:

    This made me think of Iain (M) Banks. I don’t know how well know he is in the States, but he’s a Scottish author who writes both “standard” fiction and sci-fi (the latter with the “M” in his name). “The Crow Road” is one of my favourite books (the first line is “It was the day my grandmother exploded.”!)

    A few weeks ago he announced on his site that he is suffering from terminal cancer and is not expected to live more than a few months. There was an outpouring of affection for him. There’s a story about it in the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/24/iain-banks-new-message-fans-terminal-cancer?INTCMP=SRCH.

    It seems a shame that he had to be terminally ill in order to be told how much he meant to people, but at least he discovered it, which is more than a lot of people do. Hopefully more will know because of this project.

  • Elizabeth Says:

    oh, Maggie. This gave me chills (of the good sort, obviously.)