Monday, July 7, 2014

My Open Letter to All Authors

Dear authors around the world:

When I would receive a gift (no matter the size) my mother ruled that I was to write a sincere thank you note to the person who had sent it. After every single Christmas or birthday, you could find me seated at our kitchen table writing notes, thanking relative after relative for the things they had graciously given me.  As High School Graduation came around, I found myself writing thank you notes for many of the teachers and other people whom had shaped me into the successful adult I am now.  At the time, my cramping hand and I thought we’d written a thank you note to everyone.  Turns out, however, we missed an enormous group of people.


I don’t even personally know an author, but I feel like I owe all of you my gratitude.  You could honestly all be mega-douchebags, but nonetheless, your books have given me a reason to be thankful for you.

Before I learned to read for myself; beautifully illustrated picture books like “Time for Bed” written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Jan Dyer would give bedtime a better twist than merely ‘counting sheep’.  When I first started to get the handle of reading, my large collection of the Little Golden Books could keep me busy for hours.

Elementary school not only brought about the education needed to read but also a library full of books perfect for me.  I trucked through series of books that continued to strengthen my reading skill and widen my imagination.  I explicitly remember falling asleep at night and picturing myself alongside Jack and Annie as we discovered where the “Magic Tree House” (by Mary Pope Osborne) would take us next.

My fellow classmates and I cherished reading time in class, even though the lot of us could read on our own.  We all listened intently to the intense adventures of “The Boxcar Children” by Gertrude Chandler Warner and then quickly relived the scenes on the playground with pinecones and woodchips as our props.  Never have I heard so much giggling than when my 4th grade teacher read chapter 10 of “The BFG” by Ronald Dahl.  We were all asking our parents to make Frobscottle that day after school.

The moment I went from merely a ‘fan’ of books to a full blown book nerd was when I picked up J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”.  If my imagination wasn’t in full swing before reading this book, it was ready for total world domination afterwards.  Not only that, I cherish the connection the series gave me to my father as we raced each other to finish the series (I won of course).  As each movie came out, we’d have our daddy-daughter date consisting of a meal and a movie.  I even talked my dad into going to the midnight release for the final installment.  We finished with a bang.

My reading habits took off from there.  By reading those seven books, I learned just how much power a single book could hold and I thank you for creating them. 

Thank you for creating places that bring about the same solace and security a hug might give.  With the mere turn of a page I can be driving down a freeway standing on the bed of a truck with Charlie in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky or sipping ‘bottled stars’ at a five-star restaurant in Amsterdam with Hazel and Augustus in John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”. 

Thank you for crafting places that can bring out my undying imagination and curiosity.  Places like “The Hunger Games” arena (written by Suzanne Collins) or the abandoned church in “The Outsiders” (written by S.E. Hinton) continually stretched my mind to paint places with just simple words. 

Thank you for molding characters that became some of my best teachers.  Leading women like Tris from “Divergent” (by Veronica Roth) and Tess from “The Infernal Devices” (by Cassandra Clare) taught me that being headstrong and courageous aren’t characteristics to hide.  Likewise, Jenny from the “Jenny McGrady Mysteries” by Patricia H. Rushford taught me to never give up on a goal or a dream; even when all possible obstacles are against you. 

Thank you for inventing characters that I can lean on.  When it seems like the world is against me, Craig from Ned Vizzini’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” is there to tell me I’m not alone in my thoughts and that reaching out to someone for help shouldn’t be frowned upon.  Rainbow Rowell taught me how to conquer obstacles and fears when I am feeling stepped-on and used with her introverted character Cath from “Fangirl”.

And finally, THANK YOU for giving me hope.  Writing a book is tough work, but you did it!  Sitting here in the cafĂ© of Barnes and Noble, I can see shelves on shelves of books that are written by people I’ve come to look up to, and I hope one day a book with my name on the outside and my words on the inside sit among them.  The fact that you reached your goal has given me hope that I might one day reach mine.

This thank you note might seem ‘nerdish’ or ‘obsessive’, but I felt moved to tell as many of you as possible how thankful I am for your work.  As I like to tell people: “There are worse things I could be addicted to.”

Thank you so much for giving me and all the other readers out there places and people and scenarios that can take us away from troubles and worries. Thank you for bringing us paradise when we can’t afford a plane ticket or take time for such an adventure. And finally, thank you for giving us ‘little writers’ hope and faith to achieve our dreams.

With all the respect in the world,
Lizzy Cox

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