When The Going Is Still Tough, Email Another Author


After a successful correspondence with Robert Munsch that left me feeling comforted and inspired, I figured there might be something to this gig.

If a simple email exchange made me feel that much better about the whole “being a lost new grad” situation, imagine what round two could do!

I dug deep within my soul, searching for the perfect person to be on the receiving end of my letter (that, and whose contact information I could actually find online).

Then one day, just before reaching a new high score in Tetris, it hit me. Although not as recognizable a name as Munsch, it was someone who had provided me with years upon years of childhood entertainment. It was even perhaps the reason I fell in love with books to begin with (and for those who know me now, it is what one would call an endless kind of love – despite the fact I’m currently reading Fifty Shades of Grey).

Her name is Charlotte Zolotow, and she is the author of my all-time favourite children’s book, William’s Doll – the story of a boy who wants a doll even though dolls typically are considered a toy only for girls.

Upon visiting her website, I learned that Charlotte is in her 90s, uses a wheelchair and is nearly blind. Therefore, her daughter now maintains the website and reads her emails to her. Learning this made me even more eager to contact her, thinking it would be so nice for her to know that, all of these years later, there are still people thinking about her and the wonderful words she wrote.

I composed an email outlining why I was emailing her. Not only was I seeking some words of wisdom while wallowing in the woes of unemployment, but I figured it also couldn’t hurt to use my time to let people know how much I appreciated their work.

As weeks turned into months and I received no response, I forgot about that email and got wrapped up in other things. Then, one day, as I was sipping some orange pekoe tea and getting lost on Pinterest, an email arrived in my inbox.

“Dear Leah,” the message began. “I hope the other people you’ve written to have been more prompt than I have in responding to your generous emails!”

Actually, no. Lauren Graham ignored my email altogether, and I still haven’t heard back from Survivor hunk Colby Donaldson.

“I am so glad William’s Doll spoke to you, and I’ve passed on your pleasure in the book to Charlotte,” the email went on. “She’s 96 and doesn’t quite get that she wrote books, but she does get that someone was saying kind things about her and that makes her happy.”

I know I’m a sap, but I really wasn’t expecting to shed tears over this.

She went on to sympathize with my whole unable-to-find-a-job-fresh-out-of-school phase and encouraged me to keep trying to do what I love. “I’m sure Charlotte would tell you not to give up, and so would I,” she wrote. “I love the African saying, ‘Fall down 10 times, get up 11,’ and live by it myself!”

She once again thanked me for making her mother feel special and wished me luck with my seemingly endless job search.

I was, to put it simply, so happy. There is a genuine joy that comes from telling someone you appreciate them, and an added pop that comes when they respond to it. As stupid as it sounds, I felt inspired that these people who I’d never met and never would meet were encouraging me to keep trying.

I mean, if both Robert Munsch AND Charlotte Zolotow’s daughter were telling me to stick with it, who was I to say no? Not only that, but all of these people had exposed me to their own struggles with getting started and look where they are now. They fell and they got up and I can do that too.

Two famous email correspondences. Two long-lasting feelings of confidence and reassurance. And one amazing way to make the most of unemployment.

Have you ever contacted and received a response from someone who inspires you? Tell the story in the comments below!

Photo credit: Children’s Books by Brandi Jordan on Flickr