Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Biggest Fan

Some day, I'll be so famous and renown that my poor mailman will have a back of steel from carrying my daily fan mail to my cliff-side cottage. And each letter will start, "Ms. Butler, I am your number one fan!" I will smile and shake my head ruefully, because I know who my number one fan is, and he doesn't write me any fan mail.

All of us Butler children are good readers, especially in our childhoods. My little brother L consumes books. It's actually a waste to buy him a book for his birthday or for Christmas, because he'll most likely finish with it before he goes to bed that night.

I have about ten million copies of my novels, screenplays, and short stories. One of the most frustrating tasks of packing last month was figuring out which manuscripts were multiples and I could throw away. This plethora of paper means that I'm continually leaving pages around, on the table where I've been working, a copy for my parents, in my room (which should be sacred). Sometimes L comes across these copies.

The other night I printed out a copy of Keys to the Garden for my parents. I left it with them, in the living room, and the next morning as I was eating breakfast, L came up to me and started talking to me about it. He had read maybe the first twenty pages, which, he told me, he thought "were good." He wanted to finish reading it, but the manuscript has since vanished, meaning that someone probably tried to put it away during cleaning day and have forgotten where it is.

I used to joke that I went into screenwriting because it's a lot easier to force someone to sit a watch a movie for a couple of hours than read a several hundred page novel. It's a guaranteed way to get people to experience what you've written. I love when people read my work, but it's difficult to connive people into it. I feel awkward asking people if they'd like to read my screenplays and it's a pain to print off several copies of the 90+ page documents, so besides my screenwriting peers, nobody really reads much of what I write. It's frustrating sometimes. You always want people to value what you find important in yourself. Which is why every time L picks up my screenplay or begs my parents to read the silly space opera novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo I feel a wave of appreciation for my 14 year old number one fan.

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