Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fan Mail

I think sometimes about writing letters to people whose writing or music or comic I love. I think of writing them e-mails that tell them how I think their work is important. How they give me faith that there are things worth doing in the world. How their art is an important part of the steady stream of art that makes me want to live more than I want to die. (You are not supposed to say that; I save it for very specific people whose work evinces suicidal ideation, on the rare occasion that I write these letters.) I very rarely write fan letters. There are several reasons.

One is awkwardness. I never ask questions at author Q&As because I know they would detect the shortness of my breathing and know how badly I wanted. They might not know what I wanted, or they might know exactly, but they would know about the wanting. And wanting in public is very difficult, is generally considered rude. I am sure that experienced readers would feel that same breathing in my letters, prose being after all mainly a way of giving structure to air. And if they feel me breathing it will be like I am there. And this will make them uncomfortable.

There is also the idea of "awkwardness" between classes. You know the way that when someone else has a lot of money and you are talking to them, no matter what you say it feels as if you're talking about money? As if you're asking them for some, or preparing them for the asking, or not asking really but trying to look or to be a certain way so that they will naturally and of their own accord decide that they would like you to have some money? Or if you have a lot of money, you know how you can feel the way that other people feel this way when they talk to you? I feel as if people with talent and artistic success and/or recognition thereof must experience the same thing when they speak to those of us with less.

As in, when I write an e-mail to a great writer, I am convinced they can tell that what I really want is for them to find my letter wonderful, for them to write me back and get to know me, that they will take me under their wings. I am not consciously wanting this but in the same way some part of me is always trying to get money from people with a lot of money I think I am trying to get talent, trying to get skill and knowledge and so on, from those that have those. And I want them to help me. And I want to help them also, in some way. Not because I am a good person but because then they would think well of me and so might others.

I have confessed before and will confess again to intense cynicism re: my own motives. I treat myself like I am scum, a scam artist, when I have never scammed anyone that I know of.

I guess what I am wondering is how to write an e-mail to someone I like without getting trapped in a loop of narcissistic self-scrutiny that never ends. I want to just write a letter. I have gotten fan mail, small nice letters, and it was lovely. Would like to spread the good feelings on everybody's tummies like peanut butter.

And then at the same time, on the other hand, sometimes I want to ask someone a favor. I want to actually do that. I want to ask them for help. But I don't know how to do that either.

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