If a kid writes to you and explains that they were “hartbroken” you’d probably think that they don’t have fantastic literacy skills.
And if they used a lower case “i” in every sentence they typed, you’d probably become even more suspect.
And if they spelled the word “can’t” without the apostrophe (i.e. cant), spelled snapped without the double “p” (i.e. snapped), and spelled characters with an i (i.e. charicters) – and they did everything I mentioned in the above commentary in the framework of about a paragraph, you might even suspect that they’ve never read an entire book in their entire life.
But then again, communicating in the modern world, with our modern tools, can often lead to a great many false presumptions, now can’t it? I was reminded of this earlier today when I read a piece of my fan mail.
Man i love this book i wish that alan would do a book on Mich as the main charecter and keep the story going because when i finished the book i like snaped back in to reality and i was like whoa these people didnt exist…the book dose not just reach out to you but you feel as if you known the charicters for a life time (excpecily if you read Hoopster and then Hip hop high school and then this) and when i put the book down and read over the back page and it said it was the last in the seires i was like..hartbroken i was like this cant be the end it just cant but if alan dosent make a new book featuring micha or a new person in the family im still kool with the ending in homeboyz it left me guessing the whole time awsome book a MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!! I CANT STREES ENOUGH MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This kid has read three of my books and wants me to write more in the series. That makes me feel good. However, I get communications like this ALL the time – the passion for the material combined with what I’ll simply refer to as “a lack of attention to written detail”. Truthfully, I am not sure if this young fan can do better. I mean I think he could. After all, if you’ve read three full YA novels and enjoyed having done so, well… that says something, doesn’t it?
But doesn’t this message to me also say something about how kids today don’t even feel the need to work in the Queen’s English? What matters to this young fan is that he expresses his passion. He wants his voice to be heard. That seems clear. And if I write him back and castigate him for the lack of “proper attention to written detail” in his message, he’s gonna think I’m the biggest bozo there is.
But if I let it slide, well… there’s an English teacher living inside of me that wants to huff about things like basic spelling, grammar and punctuation. But is this the place for me to do so?
Does zipping off a message over the web to an author whose work you like require one to “write with attention to detail”?
I’m at a loss as to the answer to this. Yes, I’m flattered. (I really do love that so many kids greatly like my books.) But on the other hand, should I be doing more to encourage fans to “step up their game”? My book Homeboyz has really opened up so many worlds to me.