Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Stephanie (in which I am a fawning fan)

[A real fan letter I e-mailed to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.]

Dear Stephanie,

In the fifth grade, our class was assigned to write a letter to our favorite author. I have absolutely no recollection of the author I wrote to, but I do remember that my best friend, Kendra, wrote to Carolyn Keene. Unfortunately, the return letter informed us, Keene had passed away several years before. The return letter lied. In reality, "Keene" turned out to be almost a dozen writers writing under the Keene pseudonym (which incidentally explains the mystery of why I loved some of the books, others not so much). That experience pretty much put me off writing fan letters. What if Beverly Cleary turned out to be a fake? Did Laura Ingalls Wilder really slide down those haystacks? Clearly the potential horror of learning that authors I idolized were actually hacks writing children's fiction for a paycheck while trying to make it as a "real" author was too great to bear. So I've never written another letter until today. I am trusting that you are a real person and a real knitter. If that's not the case and the person reading this is a corporate drone whose job it is to answer all the Stephanie Pearl-McPhee letters, please don't disabuse me of my fantasy. Just send me the "signed" form letter thanking me for my interest and wishing me the best of luck in my future endeavors.

If you are a real person, then I owe you a thank you. I found your blog three or four months ago, and since then I've been reading it from the beginning a month at a time whenever I have a few minutes here and there. Imagine my chagrin when I got to September 2007 and found out that you came to Wichita before I even knew who you were. I hope you come back someday. Or how about Kansas City? I'd drive to Kansas City. Or Oklahoma? Nebraska? Not Colorado, though. Colorado's a little far.

I finished reading the day before yesterday, and I seem to be going through some kind of withdrawal. I keep going back to the site and poking around as if there must be more somewhere that I missed. How will I kill 20 minutes while I eat my lunch now? What am I supposed to do while I wait for my favorite TV show to come on? Crazy Aunt Purl is funny, but she's just not the same. Anne Hanson's designs are beautiful, but she doesn't seem to want to make me giggle.

In particular, I want to thank you for one bit of inspiration. I bet you think I'm going to thank you for teaching me that it's "just knitting" and it's okay to be brave and take risks, or that it's important to laugh at myself, or to have courage to try a really challenging pattern. You are seriously underestimating my superficiality.

I want to thank you because I recently taught myself to do plain knitting by touch, a skill I was inspired to practice when I read about you working on socks while you check your e-mail. (I believe there was some mention of putting the keyboard on the floor so you could page through e-mails with your toe.) I closed my eyes and gave it a shot and was amazed to find that I can knit without looking! Which means that I can read and knit at the same time! With eyes open, of course. This makes me practically faint with happiness. Being able to read again is a huge relief since my voracious reading habit had to take a back seat to my new-found voracious knitting habit. That particular bit of inspiration is probably the most important thing I've gained from your blog, and I've sworn to always keep some sock yarn on hand so I can have a "reading sock" handy.

So I want to say thank you for that piece of inspiration, and for the blog and your books in general. (For the record, I did take the "be brave" thing to heart. You should see what I did to a hat with a miscrossed cable. Scary.) Reading you has been a load of fun, and I'm looking forward to reading a lot more--while knitting socks.

Hoping that writing this letter will provide some closure so that I can stop clicking around your blog like a forlorn puppy whose favorite chew toy is stuck under the sofa,
Noelle Kathleen Barrick

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