This is the first of a series called Letters to an Author. What authors have influenced and inspired you? What did you like or dislike about them? How did they change how you perceive the world?
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Dear Michael Crichton,
For making sci-fi feel accessible, I thank you.
I have never considered myself “good at” science. It was always something reserved for the people I thought of as super-smart.
I just didn’t feel like I was good at science, and with you, I don’t have to be.
I know wires are important, but I didn’t need to know all about them to enjoy Terminal Man. I understand the concept of a camera and recognize the expertise involved in studying dinosaur bones, but I didn’t need to study those to enjoy Dragon Teeth.
Can you believe I haven’t read Jurassic Park? Don’t worry, it’s on my list – and I saw the movie!
There arre the authors we think are our favorite authors, then there are the ones we come back to again and again. It’s hard to pick a favorite sometimes. But I own more books by you than any other author. Mostly in paperback – except Pirate Latitudes in hardcover, which I loved by the way.
Thank you for making mystery fun and nerdiness magical. For making it an exploration and an adventure. For making me not only think but ponder. For helping me enjoy science.
There’s probably a huge line of people who want to meet you on the other side, and you know I’ll be in it.
About six years ago, a friend said those words to me. And I just laughed it off. “Haha, I know!”
It wasn’t funny, though.
When I was a kid, I loved reading and writing. In the fifth grade I shared a short story with my teacher after I was inspired by Franklin and the Green Knight (my brother was a toddler at the time and we watched a LOT of Franklin). In middle school we read and saw a stage production of “A Wrinkle in Time” during a sci-fi unit in English class. When we were assigned a few projects related to the sci-f books we read, I was consumed by it. I remember writing a story about sister witches who turn into a tornado at the end. I read “House of Stairs” by William Sleator and created a whole newsletter about the characters and plot. (Check out this blog post by Mari Ness for more info on “House of Stairs” *spoiler warning*) In senior year of high school, I dropped anatomy to take creative writing and wrote an epic poem about a Hawaiian king. I sincerely hope these things are all saved somewhere.
After reading the Magic Tree House book about Ellis Island, I would put my little plastic toy horses into their time machine stable and send them back in time. As an adult, I learned that not everyone had as much fun as I did.
Poetry, song lyrics, stories… I loved words. I was a huge nerd, but to me it just felt normal. My favorite computer game was the castle trivia game on the Magna Carta encyclopedia CD-rom. Do we even say CD-rom anymore?
In middle school and high school, I became very self-conscious about my intelligence. It hurt me when other kids would say, “Wow, you’re so smart.” It didn’t feel like praise; I knew it wasn’t yet couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I felt like an outcast. Other people were smart, so why didn’t it feel okay that I was, too? Being able to read and write is not the tell-all for being “smart” yet those were the things that made me smart and creative, and I let it slip away.
At some point in time, I lost myself. I did not surround myself with people who were similarly creative to me – or if they were, I never knew. It takes a lot of courage to share your thought bubble with others. It’s a raw, sometimes painful part of us.
I have been many things throughout the years, but the first thing I am, at my core, is a creator. And now, with this blog, I am reclaiming myself to share authentically.
Nature is beautifully and wonderfully imperfect; so too is creation. It is magic and mystery and awe inspiring. My creative mind is my happy place.
In the beginning, I will be producing quick content to get used to a flow and rhythm. I’m excited to see my talent develop – the beauty of creation is that you can keep trying and also be satisfied with a work in progress.
My name is Heather and I am the creator of Oak + River Books. Thank you for reading this post – I hope you leave with the knowledge that you can be brave and authentic in whatever creative platform you feel called to.
P.S. Here are a few books I’ve recently read that reminded me it’s okay to follow my own path: