When I was in the fourth grade, I wrote to tell her about my story and she wrote back.
Dear Marguerite Henry,
I am writing to you for a second time to let you know that I have finally done what I promised in my first letter. I stuck to it and I am now a published writer.
I'm sure you have forgotten. You must get hundreds of letters from budding young writers, enclosing their stories.
"A Star For Roseann" is long gone. The plot was a bit on the thin side, but I still remember it. I never stopped writing. I have dabbled in most genre. I had a weekly newsletter column for years and years. I wrote short stories for my daughter who is now an adult and an author as well. She no longer needs hand illustrated works on what happens when Mommy goes away. I dabbled in fantasy, tried science fiction, and westerns. I even wrote a bit of liturgy. I was in my 50s when I settled on mystery and wrote my first novel.
I realized something else that you taught me. Historicals can be fun and engaging. I found this out when I read Born to Trot. My father told me the book was about real horses and real people and was set in the recent past. Well, recent back then. I looked it up and sure enough there were photographs of the horses and the people. I have loved research ever since.
Somehow I figured out that short stories were for me, and I have written almost one hundred, and have had a dozen or so in anthologies.
Would I still be writing if it had not been for your kindness in answering my letter? Most likely. Even at the time, I knew it could not have been the quality of my writing the made you urge me to keep it up, but the fact that I had finished a story, no matter how poorly done. I was, after all in the fourth grade at the time, and I was new to writing. I didn't know how hard it really was, or how much time it took. At the time I believed a writer sat down and wrote, and then it was a book.
When I discovered how difficult it was, and how much persistence it took, the memory of you letter kept me at it.
I hope in my turn I have been helpful to new writers, and someone will remember me kindly for the support I have given.
KB Inglee nee Whitney