I'm telling you this because Megan Shepherd dared one of us to talk about a time we wrote a fan letter to an author, and while I don't have any memory of writing to an author, I have a REALLY embarrassing story about writing a fan letter to George Lucas (creator of Star Wars) when I was twelve.
My Star Wars infatuation started sometime during sixth grade. My best friend was sleeping over at my house, so my mother sent us to the video store with $3 to pick out a movie to watch. We chose Return of the Jedi, completely unaware that it was the third movie of the Star Wars trilogy. We were OBSESSED. This was the greatest movie EVER. We had no idea why that guy was frozen in metal, but there was a GIRL trying to rescue him, and then there was a guy with psychokinetic powers, and there was an evil empire and a DEATH STAR. A Death Star, you guys!
We watched Return of the Jedi over and over again, possibly even on successive sleepover weekends, until my mom clued us in. "You know, there ARE other Star Wars movies."
This was an even greater revelation than discovering Return of the Jedi. We watched all the movies and spread the good news about the existence of Star Wars among our friends. Watching Star Wars during sleepovers became mandatory. By the beginning of seventh grade, we had formed a fan club called LECHY. (This stood for Leia, Ewoks, Chewy, Han, Yoda - all characters the founding members had adopted as their aliases for the purposes of anonymous note-writing.)
|My 6th grade yearbook photo
By this point, I was so overwhelmed with Star Wars fever, that not only was I trying to develop telekinetic powers, making Ewok costumes for my stuffed bears, and growing my hair out to look like Princess Leia's,** I was inspired to write a letter to George Lucas. In pink, sparkly pen.
I don't have the letter anymore, for obvious reasons, but from what I remember, it went something like this,
Dear George Lucas,
Hi! My name is Alexa and my friends and I love Star Wars SO MUCH! We even made up a fan club that is called LECHY for Leia, Ewoks, Chewy, Han, Yoda! Let me gush on about the mechanics of our fan club and how much I love your movies for TWO ENTIRE PAGES!!!
The trouble was, I didn't have George Lucas's address. And while the Internet existed, we didn't have it at home and we were only supposed to use the computers at school for homework assignments. So, I found the address for 20th Century Fox on the back cover of my Return of the Jedi VHS tape, and sent it to George Lucas, c/o 20th Century Fox.
I know what you're thinking. There's no way that letter ever got anywhere near George Lucas. There's no way I ever got a response.
But you're wrong. Some kindhearted person passed it on to someone else at Lucasfilm, and then on to whichever department handles fan mail. Somewhere around five months after I sent my letter, I got a response from someone who was probably an administrative assistant at Lucasfilm, thanking me for my enthusiasm and gently informing me that I could send fan mail to them directly (address provided). She also slipped several Star Wars bookmarks in with her response, one of which was a hologram bookmark, the coolest thing ever for a nerdy kid when printed holograms were a new thing.
I know Star Wars is a money-making megalith, and we're not even going to talk about the prequels or the fact that HAN SHOOTS FIRST, but I'll never forget those bookmarks or that response, and how it made me feel like someone cared about me. Someone out there took the time to make sure my letter got through, and then someone else did me the small but immeasurable kindness of writing back. Sometimes little moments like that are enough to get a dorky kid with glasses and a bad haircut through the worst years of middle school.
I still have the bookmarks. I keep them in the top drawer of my writing desk.
* Actually, the last part of that statement is still true.
** A significant impediment to having Princess Leia hair: your mother cutting your bangs with toenail scissors.
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