Dear Famous Writer,
You don’t know me, so don’t worry about having met me once in the rush of the thousands of people you’ve met only once, with me thinking that we had a meaningful conversation and you not remembering me at all, but you are getting on in years. Just saying.
I was going to send a quick note to say how much I liked your “Playfulness” essay in the new River Teeth Journal. Then I had second thoughts because it seemed a geeky thing to do, like I was in a fan club or something. My third thought started me writing again, but the fourth sent me to one of my weekend tasks—reducing the stack of incoming journals and books before it topples over. I picked up Orion and was reading along when I hit your essay about the jay. Two essays appearing at the same time! Your parents must be proud. The next journal was Ruminate with “Eighth Man.” Gee, you write a lot! On a hunch, I picked up 2013 Best American Essays that came in last week. You were there, too, with “His Last Game.”
I’m relatively new to the essay world, but I’m guessing that you’re one of the big hitters because on my bookshelves you’re also in Best Essays for 2005, 2003, and 1998, Best Spiritual Writing, Best Nature Writing, and in a bunch of journals that I’ve read.
At this point I’m starting to worry about me. How did I not remember your name? I remembered each essay because of its insight, compassion, faith, humor, and/or diction, but your name, not so much. Now I’m looking around to see where you aren’t. You’re not on my grocery list and you’re not in the letter to my parents.
Even if you’re not big in the way of the gushy acclaim that society dumps on some authors, you are big with fringe lunatics like me who like to read and think about deep matters, what challenges the heart and mind, a prophet for the perplexed yet oddly thoughtful.
My third thought snuck out of the closet where I shoved it so I wouldn’t have to think about it. Then the fourth reappeared, and the fifth, but the sixth thought overrode the fifth and said that you already know you’re a talented writer because lots of people have told you this, so you don’t need my note to toss on your pile. I forget what my seventh thought was, but the eighth was this, and it’s the final one. I’m going to write to you but I’m not going to say that you have a new fan. I will watch eagerly for your next publication, and it’ll probably arrive in my mailbox on Monday, but I won’t tell you how much I like it.
In the high praise lingo of someone’s stoic German-American grandfather, not mine because he’s been dead awhile and wasn’t that much of a reader, “That guy sure can write okay.”