Before e mail, one of the fringe benefits of having my books go out into the world was the mail I received from readers. Young people used to be fanatical letter writers. I looked forward to finding their letters in the mailbox and always enjoyed writing back. I had a two year correspondence once with a teenaged girl in Alaska, until, determined to be a writer, she went off to college. I still wonder if she realized her dream. I do get handwritten letters from children after a class visit, but usually they are two sentences long, thanking me for coming, as instructed by teachers encouraging good manners. I particularly enjoy the drawings that sometimes accompany them. And there is such a sweet feeling when I open that big envelope and all those thin lined papers flutter out. Still those one of a kind letters from kids who actually read my books are so priceless. Here are a few of my old favorites.
Dear Jan Greenberg, I loved your book The Pig-out Blues so much I wanted to eat it.
Dear Jan Greenberg, I am a big fan of yours and I tell all my friends to read your books. Can you send me five copies of all of them FedEx?
Dear Jan, After I read The Iceberg and Its Shadow, I wrote this poem for you. Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, If I were looking for an author, I’d come straight to you. Love, Sally PS Sorry this is so short, but I have to go to bed now.
Dear Jan, Our teacher read Bye Bye Miss American Pie to us. I didn’t like it that much. I hope I can read more of your wonderful books.
Dear Jan Greenberg, I love your books, especially the titles. I’ll be coming to St. Louis soon and I plan to stop by and stay with you. My mother says it’s fine if it’s OK with you.
That was a hard one to respond to!!! Finally from an eighth grade boy after I visited his class in Warrensburg, MO.
Personally I hate to read, but your books are fairly interesting, even though most of them are about girls. I honestly have to admit I expected you to be totally different. I was waiting for an old lady who could hardly walk to hobble in. But wow, then you showed up. In case you’re wondering, I was the dude in the back row wearing a letter jacket. Your Pal, Chris Nelson. PS Usually I fall asleep during that period right after lunch, but you were pretty entertaining.
Now why didn’t I get letters like that when I was IN the eighth grade? Ok. The letter is about fifteen years old!!! In the days when I wrote novels, I received many letters from kids. Since I’ve been writing non-fiction, the letters have dwindled. I wonder if those of you who write fiction and non-fiction have experienced that. And these days I get e mails from young people asking me to help write a term paper on POP Art or Jackson Pollock or to send back a three page autobiography for their “Write a profile on an author” assignment. On occasion I suspect that the person e mailing me has never read one of my books. Life was so much simpler before call notes, e mails, and Blackberries. Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year! My New Year’s resolution is to meet some of you in 2010!!! PS My next blog will be on research. I loved Deborah’s remarks.