Fangirl Thursday: We Can Do It!

As we approach the two-month countdown until the January 1 deadline for submissions for The Fan Mail Project (the book of letters to female characters that I’m compiling), I wanted to devote a little time on a Fangirl Thursday to thank all of the fangirls (and fanboys) who have sent in letters so far. Fangirl Thursday posts are usually places to share excitement, so it seems fitting for me to use this post to tell you that there’s nothing like the excitement I feel when I look into my inbox and see a new letter. (There’s also nothing like the tears I cry while reading almost every single beautiful letter, but that’s another story for another post…)

I’ve received letters to characters as varied as Scarlett O’Hara, Cristina Yang, Claire Underwood, and Hermione Granger. These letters are already painting such an amazing portrait of why female representation in the media matters—because, for as diverse as the characters have been, the people who’ve written letters to me so far are even more diverse. It’s been a true pleasure to read your stories, and it’s a true honor to be trusted with sharing this part of you with the world in a way that will make you proud to be involved with this project.

And if you haven’t sent in a letter yet (or you want to send in more), there’s still plenty of time to write! If you’re having trouble settling on a character to write about, here’s a shortlist of much-loved female characters still missing from Fan Mail right now:
• Lorelai/Rory/Emily Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)
• Dana Scully (The X-Files)
• Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)
• Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
• Sarah Walker (Chuck)
• Peggy Carter (Agent Carter)
• Sydney Bristow (Alias—but don’t worry, I’ll be rectifying this one myself soon)
• Arya/Sansa/Brienne/Daenerys/Cersei/etc. (Game of Thrones)
• Zoe/Inara/Kaylee/River (Firefly)
• Natasha Romanoff (Marvel comics/movies)
• Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)
• Regina/Snow/Red/Belle/etc. (Once Upon a Time) (I’ve gotten a couple of letters to Emma so far but could always use more!)

If you’re looking for inspiration, maybe that list can help you get started, but that’s by no means a comprehensive list of characters worth writing about. Choose a character whose story moves you to write—which character do you think of when you need confidence, or when you feel lonely, or when you want to believe things are going to turn out okay? Which character has been a part of your life for so long that you don’t know who you are independent of their influence? Which character helped you navigate the rough waters of high school, or college, or parenthood? That’s who you should write to. And take it from someone who knows—the letter you’re most proud of might be one you never planned to write.

To those who are still struggling with the writing process, I know it’s not easy to open yourself up the way these letters call for you to. There are still letters I don’t know how to start because I’m afraid of how vulnerable they’ll make me feel. But we can do it together. If you need a cheerleader or someone to remind you how brave you are to be writing one of these letters at all, I’m here. Don’t be afraid to comment here or send me a Tweet (@nerdygirlnotes) or an email (nerdygirlnotes@gmail.com) asking for some moral support because that’s what this project is all about—helping each other feel like we’re not alone, shining a light on the unifying and inspiring power of fandom.

If you want to leave a comment listing other characters you’d love to see included in this book, please do so—maybe you’ll inspire a fellow fangirl or fanboy to start writing. If you want to share who you’ve written to already or who you plan to write to in the future, please do so—maybe you’ll inspire someone to keep going with their writing plans because you kept going with yours. And if you want to spread or seek words of encouragement from your fellow fans, this is place to do that, too.

We can do this, fellow nerds! Together I truly believe we’re creating something special, moving, and revealing—not just about those of us who’ve written letters but about fandom as a whole and why it’s important. I know I’m already growing as a person for having the privilege of reading the letters I’ve seen so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this project over the next couple of months and beyond.

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8 thoughts on “Fangirl Thursday: We Can Do It!

  1. I am so excited to read everyone’s letters when this is all done. I’ve loved reading your letters so far and all the the ones by people who have posted them on their own sites for us to enjoy.

    I’ve been meaning to make a list of letters that I at least potentially want to write, so thank you for providing the space and motivation for you!

    My two big letters that I really need to do are to Lorelai (Gilmore Girls) and Sara (CSI). It’s hard to look back and see exactly the ways in which they both shaped me in high school but I know I’d be a different person without their influence. I also really want to write to Gillian (Lie to Me), the nuns of Nonnatus House (Call the Midwife), Sharon/Athena (BSG), someone from Buffy/Angel/Firefly, and possibly Luna (Harry Potter). We’ll see how many of those get written and who else pops up like Savannah that I just need to write to.

    This has been such a wonderful process for me. My letters haven’t necessarily turned out the way I thought they would but I’m so happy with where they ended up. I love that through these letters, I’ve been able to honor some very important people in my life, both fictional and otherwise. I love that I’ve been able to at least partially work through things I didn’t realize I was still holding on to. My Cristina letter in particular was so cathartic to get out and I just continue to be so happy that this book exists.

    If you’re still on the fence about writing a letter, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s vulnerable and scary but the emotional release that has come with each of my letters has been so worth it. And Katie really is an excellent cheerleader and is so wonderful at honoring the bravery and strength that it takes each one of us to write these. Your feelings and love could not be in better hands.

    • Your last paragraph made me all teary-eyed. I hope you’re happy. 😉 It’s always my goal to make sure everyone who writes a letter for this project knows that I will be their biggest cheerleader and feels comfortable trusting me with what’s in their heart, so thank you for making me feel like I’m doing a good job of working toward that goal.

      I’m so excited to read the rest of your letters! All the ones you’ve written so far have been beautiful and heartfelt and perfect. I think my favorite thing about reading them has been feeling like we’ve grown even closer as friends through this process. And I feel like that gets to the heart of what I’m trying to do with this book in a really special way.

  2. Those are some great characters that deserve letters!!

    I have found that just the process of writing these letters has taught me a lot about my relationships with fictional characters. I have learned that while I have plenty of female characters that I love, finding those that actually INSPIRE me are on a whole different level.

    My letter to Lois Lnae came easily. I feel like I had all of those thoughts bottled up and ready to come out for years. The second letter has been almost impossible. I actually just want to write more letters to Lois, haha. I have started a few and just found I didn’t have much to say, or its hard to rechannel the feelings I had when they were such a prominate force in my life. But today I had some time waiting for Sean to go to the airport, and I started wracking my brain for all the characters I have loved over the years, and it came to me – Beatrice from ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

    I am already halfway to my letter to her and this one feels right where all the others felt wrong. I am really excited for you to read it and have her represented in the book!!

    • I think you’re right about the difference between characters we love and characters that inspire us—that distinction has led to some of my more surprising choices (Jamie and Rachel, especially). It’s fun when you find a new character you might want to write about and the words just start flowing. I’m so happy Beatrice inspired you like that, because I adore her and I can’t wait to have her in this book!

  3. I’ve been trying to get friends and followers on board, and I will continue to do so… in part because I’m not sure that I can write a letter myself. I just don’t know that there’s anyone fictional who I relate to on this level. I can’t think of anyone from childhood either… so maybe that’s just not how I relate to fiction. But thank you for the list and the reminders. Maybe somewhere along the way I WILL think of someone. And if not, I will at least keep plugging away at my friends in the hope that some of them might follow through.

    • Thanks, Jo! If you think of anyone to write a letter to, I’ll be happy to include it, but I totally understand that not everyone relates to fiction that way. But if you could keep spreading the word, that would be wonderful! There’s so much interest in this project but the follow-through hasn’t really matched the buzz yet, so reminding people to write things if they still want to is really important.

  4. Pingback: Be a Force of Nature: A Letter to Cristina Yang | TVexamined

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