Thursday, December 9, 2021

a gift from a fan

Received a huge gift yesterday, from a woman in Alexandria, Virginia, who took the time to find my address and send me a small card in the mail. 

She's a kindred spirit — look at that interesting writing! I've had not a single word of feedback about the audiobook, so this is even more meaningful. I'm going to hang it on the wall above my desk, to remind me that you never know where your words — and voice — will land, to whom these things will matter. And I will write back to her today, to tell her how very much her words have meant to me — especially "Your writing is musical." When I read a writer I love, like Helen MacDonald who uses gorgeous metaphors and great luscious swirls of language, I feel like a plain, dull writer. But what I hope works for me is the music of my sentences. And this stranger in Virginia agrees and wrote to tell me so. 

Christmas, early.  

Have also been delving more into my files of old papers and marvelling, yet again, at the writer child I was. At 11, I started The Sunshine Magazine, which had one issue. 

I was writing poems and stories — mostly overwrought, clichéd, and ghastly, sounding like whoever I was reading at the time — Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett — and many letters. And they're all in a box upstairs.

As many have told me, it's both a gift and a curse to have so much of my past available to me — endless piles of diaries since 1959, hundreds of letters saved by my mother from her life and mine. Now, for example, that I'm trying to write about my best friend in 1962, I have lots of stuff to draw on, some of which completely contradicts my memories. I have a Beatrix Potter book which at age seven I edited in pencil, correcting her prose. Always the bossyboots! Always, and still, and always, obsessed with words. 

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