It’s 11:00 PM on June the 25th. I’ve just come from a 4 hour Gospel Choir rehearsal. I have homework to finish, vocabulary to memorize, a roleplay I want to post in, characters I want to write for, and blogs to prepare. HOWEVER, I’m feeling surprisingly…genki. (One of my favorite Japanese adjectives and also the name of my textbook. Energetic. Healthy. Spirited.) I’m also very proud of what I’ve written today. If you’ve never read anything by Garth Nix, stop what you’re doing right now, go to a library, and steal ALL of his books, (but please return them because stealing is totally wrong, and I don’t support it in anyway).
A letter to someone, anyone.
Dear Mr. Nix,
I’d like to thank you first of all, but I’m sure that could come later. You’d probably like to know who I am before I start throwing around my gratitude. I can’t remember how long it has been; I must have been in fourth or fifth grade. And for some reason, I picked up one of your books, Mister Monday in fact, at a Barnes and Noble. This is significant because I had been a Nancy Drew purist up until this point. My mother told me I could pick out one book, and of course I spent at least an hour browsing through the young adult section because this decision would most certainly impact several hours of my short life. I remember opening it on the hour and a half drive home, sitting in the back of my parents’ minivan, reading by the light of the portable DVD player meant to entertain my baby brother. I had never read a book like this before. Arthur was no Nancy.
I thought it was particularly funny that the main character had asthma. As far as I knew, protagonists had tragic backstories. They grew up orphans when they were really supposed to be princesses. They were beautiful, talented, powerful… Not asthmatic. Despite all their hardships, they were never inhibited by something like that. But not Arthur. (Not to say that he didn’t grow into something absolutely marvelous.) I fell in love with him instantly and for nights I dreamed that someone like me, someone who struggled to overcome her own weak disposition, could be chosen too. I could go on my own adventure. I could be a protagonist. Of course the rest is history. From that point on, I raided the local library for all of your books. I waited months and years for the next novel to come.
And finally, as a young girl, I remember my parents taking me to a small bookstore in San Antonio, Texas for my birthday to meet you. I remember them buying me your newest book and toting around the ones I already owned just so you would sign them. I remember listening to you speaking, holding onto every word. You told me a story about a magic ring, one that gave you good luck for seven years. Perhaps you don’t remember a pudgy little bespectacled girl leaping up when you said you would give it to the next person who raised his/her hand. And you gave it to me, the chess club geek, the straight-A honor student, the girl who spent more time with fictional characters than actual people. I can’t remember if I cried or screamed or both, but I can say with all honesty that I haven’t felt that kind of joy since.
Since then I’ve been writing. Maybe not every day or every week, but I do what I can in-between school and work and life in general. I keep my magic ring close to me. It has followed me to junior high, high school, college, on road trips, flights, and other countries. It has watched me change from a chess geek to a band geek to salutatorian to foreign exchange student. I’m sure it gave me the spark of magic I needed in my life to keep going when life got difficult.
I’ll admit that I haven’t read your books in many, many years now. The details are hazy. They’re sitting in a box in my room with the rest of my things I can’t tote to college, but I still think about them every once in a while, even if it’s just proudly talking about Nix-san in my tiny Japanese language class.
Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow or next year. But I know that your words are going to stay with me on my journey. Your books will always be the beginning of my life as a writer. Your magic ring is always going to be close to my heart (quite literally as it sits on a chain around my neck). Bad luck or good luck or somewhere in-between, I’m going to keep trying until I’ve finally got it right.
A bespectacled, freckled, lanky, awkward wordsmith to be.