Years ago I heard a story from our pastor, Dr. Timothy Keller, that completely astonished me. When his wife Kathy was 12 years old, she wrote to C.S. Lewis . . . And he wrote her back.
11th November 1963
Thanks for your note of the 5th, and I hope you will enjoy the Screwtape Letters which has been the most popular of all my books.
I sympathize with your “maddening experience”, but I can assure you that this is one of the occupational risks of authorship; the same sort of thing has happened to me more than once. There is nothing to be done about it!
With all best wishes,
They continued to write back and forth four times. The last letter she received from him was 11 days before he died. The part that most astonished me was not that he wrote her back, but that she had thought to write him in the first place. His writings had so moved her that she wanted to form a connection with the writer.
If I had been alive during the time his Narnia books were first published, would I have written to him? It’s doubtful. Most likely fear, self-doubt, and laziness would have contributed to me missing out on a remarkable opportunity. This got me thinking . . . Who are the present-day authors or illustrators inspiring us? Who could we write to encourage and praise, so we do not miss out on an opportunity to make a connection?
Our primary objective in writing to our favorites was not only to get a response - even though that would be a hopeful outcome - we also wrote to praise and to encourage them, to tell them how much we loved their work, and what it meant to us personally. A few times we asked thoughtful questions about the writing and illustrating process to seek help with our own writing and illustrating. We also chose our favorite authors and illustrators that were lesser known, thinking we may have a better opportunity to connect with someone that may not already be inundated with letters.
We have been on this journey for six years, writing letters to authors and illustrators, many of whom have written us back. In fact, my oldest daughter has her very own “C.S. Lewis pen pal”. Such a delightful outcome. They have exchanged lovely ideas about the writing and illustrating process. Though sharing ideas with her pen pal has helped my daughter with her own efforts, the best outcome has been the personal connection she has been able to make with one of her favorite authors.