After years of dreaming, months of planning, and days of anxiously trying to find the right words to articulate what I want to say, I have some big news to announce…
I’m writing a book! (Tentatively titled The Fan Mail Project)
I’ve known for a long time that one of the things I’ve wanted to accomplish more than anything else was to write a book about pop culture and fandom. But I struggled for a long time with the idea of what that book would look like. How could I take what I do here at NGN and turn it into something that would resonate with people enough to work as a book?
However, once I wrote my thank-you letter to Leslie Knope before the series finale of Parks and Recreation (which, in turn, made me think of the letter I wrote to Princess Leia back during NGN’s earliest days), I knew with total certainty what I was going to do: I was going to write thank-you letters to the fictional women who’ve inspired me through the years—from my childhood and teenage years through the present. I would write about the way Sydney Bristow helped me hold on to my sense of self during my challenging high school years; the way Kate Beckett helped me find the strength to accept my flaws as a young woman; and the way Emma Swan continues to teach me to believe in myself and in my ability to be happy.
But my letters would only tell one story, and doesn’t the beauty of what we experience here at NGN come from the way we all share our stories with one another when we talk about the characters who inspire and move us? NGN isn’t just a shout into the void; it’s become a place of lively, loving, and sincere conversation about the fictional characters and stories we love.
As my personal hero Leslie Knope once stated, “No one achieves anything alone.” So let’s do this together, friends. It’s my hope that this book won’t just be filled with my letters of love and thanks to the female characters who’ve shaped my life; it will be filled with letters from many fangirls (and fanboys if you want to get in on the fun, too, guys).
My goal with this book is to show the positive impact female representation in the media can have on the lives of real women and men around the world. I want to show people that it’s not “weird” or “unhealthy” to connect with the journeys of fictional characters; it’s a way for us to see reflections of our strengths and flaws in the media we consume and to grow as people by watching the growth of characters we relate to. I want to shine a light on the ways the media can change lives for the better through sharing my story and the stories of others who grew into stronger, better people because they were inspired by female characters of all kinds in all kinds of media. I want to show the world how important it is to respect the idea that loving a fictional character has helped so many of us learn to love ourselves for exactly who we are, and that’s why diverse female representation in the media matters.
Does this sound like something you might want to be a part of? Awesome! How can you contribute to this project? It’s easy! Write a thank-you note or letter to a female character who has inspired you, sharing why they’ve made such an impact on your life. The letter can be a paragraph or 5 pages or something in between; write whatever you feel comfortable sharing. And if there’s more than one character you want to write about, you can write as many letters as you’d like. The more letters I have when I’m putting this book together, the better it will be.
Letters can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll start accepting them whenever you have them written.
Update: The current deadline for submissions is March 13, 2017, at 9 p.m. EST.
The rules for submitting letters are few and simple:
• You can sign your letter with as much detail as you feel comfortable sharing. At the most: name, age, and city. But you can share just your name, initials, or even submit anonymously if that makes you more comfortable.
• As I stated, there’s no set length for letters. They can be as short or as long as you feel you need.
• Female characters from any and all forms of media (books, movies, TV shows, plays/musicals, comics, etc.) can be the focus of letters. Just remember, letters should be mainly about the characters—not the actors who brought them to life.
• Please refrain from using offensive language in your letters.
• Please don’t bash other characters in your letters in as you talk about the characters you love. This is a project based on the idea of respecting people’s love for the characters who matter to them, and a character you use inflammatory language to tear down might be one who inspired someone else.
• After I receive the letters, I might edit them slightly for spelling and grammar, but I will never edit them for content.
• I will use all the letters I receive as long as they are germane to the topic of this project and follow the above rules. As I said previously, people are free to submit as many letters as they like.
It’s my hope that the passion and love behind this project will inspire someone to take a chance on it and publish it, but I am open to self-publishing if that’s the only road open to me at the end of this part of the process. No matter what, our letters and stories will be shared with the world, and I sincerely can’t wait to make all of this reality with your help.
Share this post with any other nerds and fans you know who might be interested in contributing. I want to give everyone who might want a chance to be a part of something like this an opportunity to join in. My gut is telling me that we have the chance to create something moving, eye-opening, and truly special together with this project. And it would be an honor if you chose to share your stories with me through letters to the fictional women who inspire you.
Throughout the summer, I’ll be sharing letters of my own with you as I continue to write my portion of this book. I can’t wait to see what happens on this journey, and I’m excited to share it with all of you!