Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Homespun Philosophy and Fans

A long time ago when asked in an interview why I want to be a writer I voiced grand and noble ideals about the power of the written word to impact society. "If the words I write," my answer continued, "can make just one person laugh or cry, think or question, then I will have accomplished something significant."

Well, I must admit the basic dishonesty of that answer. Yes indeed, I've always wanted to stir emotions and challenge minds.  But of just one person? Let's be real here, Will Rogers did not attain national prominence with an audience of one.

I've always liked Will Rogers, and coming from a long line of homespun philosophers myself, I've felt a kinship with his ability to bring a a down-home, simplistic approach to complex issues. When I first started writing a personal column for a Dallas newspaper I thought if I really tried I could develop that same style and speak out as a modern-day version of that great sage.

Pretty nervy of me, huh?

Now in my more mature years, I can chuckle at the brashness and idealism of that youthful vision. Maybe I had more nerve than good sense back then, and sometimes I wonder if I still have that disparity.

While I never gained national prominence with that column, I did touch a few minds and hearts, and that was a source of great satisfaction. Not too long ago I ran across a  letter I received from a reader. The letter started "This is a fan letter," and was signed. "Your friend, Charlie." I never got to meet Charlie, even though he continued to send me letters over a period of several years, but his gesture early in my writing career meant a lot.

It still does, these many years later. It was my very first fan letter.

9 comments:

AlexOngNYC said...

This is a fan comment.

Yours,

Alex

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Enjoyable post. A fan letter is great--but what I remember most is a reader who called to tell me about a mistake I made in a book long, long ago.

Marilyn

Helen Ginger said...

Where would we be without the brashness and bravery of our youth?

I love your fan letter and that he continued to send you notes. I hope he realizes that he made a difference in your life.

Carol Kilgore said...

It's always nice to know that something we create has a positive effect on someone.

Maryann Miller said...

Thanks, Alex. Still special to get a fan letter. Much appreciated.

Helen, Charlie did know how much his letter meant. We corresponded for several years, and I always told him how much that meant to me.

Marilyn, I'm sure you've gotten a few good words about your writing, too. You have lots of fans.

Laura Eno said...

Somehow I think that brashness of youth is necessary to carry us on into determination later, when we might otherwise give up.

Maryann Miller said...

Good point, Laura. I guess there is a correlation between brashness and tenacity.

The Words Crafter said...

Funny, I just did a post telling about a very arrogant viewpoint I had as a teen in high school. Inexperience-thankfully, I grew to learn better!

Very cool about your first fan letter. For me, that would be like the first comment I received on my blog.

Isn't it cool to find that when we hurl our words out into the world, they actually find someone and touch them....

Maryann Miller said...

"Isn't it cool to find that when we hurl our words out into the world, they actually find someone and touch them...."

That is so true, Words Crafter. Even after all these years I am just thrilled when I hear from a reader.