This morning I woke up to an email from a girl who had read I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE two years ago and wanted to tell me how she still felt it was one of the best books she's read and reading it was like listening to a good album, and most important, she'd passed it on to a friend who never reads, not expecting this friend to read it, but as it turned out after this friend went through a horrible time in her life and was really hitting rock bottom in terms of drug use and acting crazy, she read the book and turned her life around because she "didn't want to turn out like Louisa."
This email made my day. Actually it made my month. I don't get a ton of these like I imagine writers like say Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson do (and those are two people I have emailed or in Ellen's case almost broke down in tears when I met her because of how their books hit me), but I cannot express how much it means when I do. I remember all the letters clearly. The one from the adult guy who gave IWBYJR to his girlfriend who was neglecting her child because she was too busy self destructing and it led her to seek help. The teenage girl who'd had a couple of friends OD and BALLADS OF SUBURBIA gave her perspective and helped her gain the courage to check into rehab. The teenage girl who wrote me a handwritten letter (those are my favorite and the reason why I will always keep a PO Box) about how BALLADS helped her to stop cutting herself. The letters from teens who told me that they hadn't faced the same situations as my characters, but my books gave them perspective and empathy. The messages from people just glad to find someone who writes about the kind of music I write about.
It matters so much to me. This is the reason I write. YOU are the reason I write.
My books haven't sold a ton of copies. The writing world is scary and you often feel very alone. You spend all day typing away with little contact (which is probably why so many of us love Twitter as our water cooler) and then you send this book out and there are no guarantees. At this point, I don't know if I'll ever get another book published. I hope and I work my butt off to reach that goal again, but yeah, no guarantees. It doesn't get easier once you sell one or two books. And sometimes it is really scary to have books out in the world, especially stories that are as close to your heart as mine are to me, because people are way more likely to rip a book or piece of art to shreds (which is why I avoid Goodreads like the plague) than to go out of their way to say they like it. Sad, but true. So every single one of you who email me or send me a sweet message on twitter or facebook or comment on this blog, YOU ROCK MY WORLD and I just wanted to say thank you.
I write the stories I write because they were the stories I needed. If I didn't write I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, I might have been Louisa. I've definitely been in that hateful, dark, messed-up place where she is. And of course I've definitely been where Kara in BALLADS OF SUBURBIA has been. Writing that book was one of the most painful but at the same time healing experiences I've had. I wrote it because I wanted that book as a teenager. Like I said, I know it hasn't gotten into a ton of hands, but it means so much to me that the people who need it are finding it and passing it on to other people who might need it.
I will continue to write these stories that I feel need to be told and with your support, they will continue to get out their into the world. And yes, that is why I write. Not because I have delusions of fame and wealth. As long as I can continue to get by, all that matters is that my stories touched someone. So thank you. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, dear readers. You rock my world.