Fan Mail

Today I was listening to a Rhianna song and thinking about fan mail. Because there’s a part in the song where Rhianna says that she gets “fan mail from 27 million.” And I thought, there’s no way she’s read all of that mail, or has even seen it. And I thought, these people writing to her, sending her their life stories or photographs or demos or lucky charms or whatever, most of them must know that she’s not reading their mail, that she might never even touch it. But they’re writing to her anyway. Maybe hoping that when her career calms down, she will pour herself a cup of tea and pick theirs out of the pile and be moved to write back.

And it occurs to me, too, that writing fan mail is just like writing anything else. I mean, we summon all of our energy, all of our intensity, and we write our little books and things, and we try not to think of our audience, or we think peripherally about our audience, or we think very pointedly about our audience, and we wonder if they will pull our pages from the envelope and read them. And if they do, whether they will like it. And if they like it, whether they will write back, in the form of accolades or reviews or a blog post or whatever else. (I’m so distracted by my pronoun usage in the last few sentences. Audience takes “it,” and pages take “they,” but then I made the audience its members–“they”–and the pages one work–“it.” I like that I did that.)

With fan mail, I guess the point isn’t necessarily to communicate with the celebrity. It’s to reify the appreciation for or adoration of him or her. And with writing, it’s sort of the same way. We reify the need, or the bewilderment, or the anger, or whatever. We want a letter back, but we don’t necessarily expect one. Expecting something, in this context, becomes almost delusional, no?

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6 thoughts on “Fan Mail

  1. I think it’s kinda funny because though I generally agree w/ everything you’re saying, in our weird little subculture, fanmail (or writing to somebody whose work I like to let them know) usually is reciprocated, and is kinda just another form of networking. In a way, when I write fanmails to other writers I probably anticipate a response in a way I do not anticipate one for other writing.

    I was listening to that Rihanna album last night and my partner got annoyed with me because as we were taking a late-night walk through our neighborhood, I kept singing, “Come on rude boy boy can you get it up,” which is apparently not ingratiating.

    • Ha! Ingratiating, maybe not, but awesome–always.

      And you’re right, writer-to-writer, particularly within the same “writerly league,” so to speak, presents a different set of expectations…than, say, writing to Rhianna.

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