Sometimes I write open letters to people who annoy me. Sometimes I write letters to people who inspire me. Sometimes I write letters to my openly passive aggressive neighbours. Today’s letter falls into column ‘B’.
Dear Mr. Hurwitz,
Over ten years ago I managed to get my paws on a copy of The Kill Clause. I was wandering around the local Chapters in Kelowna, searching for books to take with me on my latest hospital stay. Having previously read The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen before my first surgery, I decided it was in my best interest to not read about anything surgical, but instead focus on my favorite subject: Revenge. The Kill Clause stood out to me because A) It had kill in the title, and B) Clearly involved a vengeful parent, which in my angsty teenage mind was just perfect. Soon enough I had read every book of yours I could get my hands on. I turned to Amazon to find copies of Minutes to Burn and The Tower (and thank you so much for the perpetual, unending fear of mutant praying mantoids. I am never travelling to the Galapagos.)
Your books have accompanied me to the hospital numerous times, have been my go-to when I need something familiar to sink my teeth into. Even now, older and mercifully educated, I open them and discover subtleties that were certainly over my thirteen-year-old head.
By the time I turned seventeen I was, let’s say, a little more… brash. And having taken to writing as a means to not lose my mind in between spinal surgeries and the perpetual angst, I began to suspect that what I was pursuing was not so much a hobby as it was a calling. Who knows? Years later, as I venture round amateur writing communities I find there is a shared surreal sensibility, that a writers words call to them, that their characters speak to them. Personally, I just like writing about explosions and a badass female character.
But seventeen-year-old me was in a different state, and she very much wanted to believe that what she was doing was more than just a way to pass the time in between lucid moments, free from (totally legal, honest) drugs. So stupid, idiotic, naive, dumb-dumb me did a stupid dumb-dumb thing, and emailed you for advice. Make no mistake. The minute I pressed send I had instant email regrets. Even to this day I get embarrassed just thinking about it. I very quickly pushed the whole incident from my mind, figuring that you, holy balls favourite author ever would in no way have time to email back a silly person such as myself. I may have even blocked out the entire incident just to protect my own self-respect.
Then something fantastic happened. You emailed silly, dumb-dumb, moronic, teenage me back.
And I may have peed myself with excitement. Just a little bit.
It was a huge moment. Holy SHIT, I thought. I worship the ground this man writes on! Holy flippin’, ass-crackery shit!
I can’t recall much of what I wrote to you, but I do recall including a vague request for advice on how to pursue writing as a career, and you told me something that I have followed religiously for the last 8, lordy, almost 9 years.
Write every day. Even if it is just a sentence.
At the time it didn’t mean much to me. Write every day? Uh, okay. But I’m already doing that. So…
But I figured, what the hell, if Gregg Hurwitz tells you to write every day, you damn well do it. You take your medicine and you be grateful you live in Canada and the medicine is covered under your provincial health care (sorry.)
I continued to write and read. Every day. A sentence here. A paragraph there. An idea scrawled onto a post-it that has become part of an impressive collection of half-ideas. I never stopped. When I move from my winter to spring jacket, I find the pockets stuffed with scraps of paper, covered in ideas that, quite frankly, may have been written in a drunken haze given how unclear they are.
Still, I wrote, and indeed, write.
And last year, after almost 9 years of working away at it, observing how my own understanding of writing has grown and matured and, in many ways, thrived, I made a desion that is was time to publish. I briefly considered traditional publishing when it occurred to me that I didn’t want the hassle. It was never about fame or fortune, but just getting this damn series out of my head.
Several months ago I ran a GoFundMe to pay for an editor. Two and a half months ago I paid that editor and sent her my manuscript, desperately hoping the end result would not be her calling CSIS on me (so far so good.) Three weeks ago, give or take, I got my manuscript back, filled with changes to be made. Now, today, I am sitting on 42 changes left to be made, each one seemingly more intricate than the last.
This is coming off far too self-congratulatory. It isn’t meant to be. What I wish to say is thank you. Because at a time when a silly, dumb-dumb teenager from a broken household, with a mangy spine, was trying to find her place in the world, you told her that it was okay to keep writing. Without meaning to, you gave me the permission I needed to continue doing something I loved. To those around me, writing was always just the hobby. The something that Overly Awkward Kathleen did during her free time because she couldn’t socialize well with others.
Overly Awkward Kathleen socializes much better, still puts her foot in her mouth, and has learned to adapt to the world around her. Overly Awkward Kathleen never stopped writing, not even for a second. And it never occurred to me what an accomplishment it could be, or how remarkable crafting and honing a story can be until just recently, when I realized the end of my (first) journey was in sight.
I still buy every one of your books on the day they are released, and I always look for inspiration, to see how you yourself have grown as an author from one book to the next. You continue to inspire me each time I reread any of your work. That being said, I always skip the first chapter of The Kill Clause, because it is too sad, and parts of The Tower are just a bit too graphic for my brain to handle. And I won’t ever reread Minutes to Burn because goddamned giant mantoids and an entire Navy SEALS team.