dear you

A Letter To Those Who Wish To Ban Books

Dear You,

You, who try to stamp out these books, which have not grown to harm our children, but rather, have sprouted from the hands and the souls of writers who were once children, who now wish to spark a flame in the mind, and to heal a wounded heart. You who try to say these books are not important, that stories are not important,  have you ever had someone say your story is not important to this world? 

How can you say that children should not see and hear the things that are happening around them? How can you say they should keep their noses out of books, and instead, pressed to the glass of school bus windows where children sit and talk with mouths full of words we'd rather they not speak? How can you say we shouldn't talk about the things, which hurt our children, and torture our children, that come up to our children with a plastic cup filled with beer or whiskey or whatever they can find to drown out the pain? Why would you rather they taste the booze between those sweet lips instead of tasting it through a voracious literary appetite? 

Why should we let girls struggle with weight and rape and the utter pain of a broken heart, alone? Why should we let boys treat girls like they don't matter? Why should we categorize and stereotype the experiences of these young adults? And for that matter, why should we call them young adults if we do not let them behave like adults who are young? 

Why would you take away a hunger for words trailed across the page like spaghetti, wound around the mind like pasta around the tines of a fork? Why would you discourage a belief in books, in magic, in wonderful words, which broaden the mind and make the world beautiful, and true? 

You see, I just don't understand. I am a believer in books. In words. I stories. But you see, I am a writer. And I am a reader. And I was a girl who walked through school hallways with bullies and wounds that could not be bandaged over. But you see, I did not become like those girls on the news. I did not become a statistic. Books rescued me. And that's why I can't understand why you'd take a book from the hands of our children and instead replace it with a smart phone. I can't understand why you'd let these things poison them from the inside out when words could heal them.

 I guess I'll never understand because I believe in books.

Dear You

For the most part, the only writing I've ever talked about here has been about my Falling Series. While this consumes most of my writing energy, there are other projects I am working on simultaneously. This is one of them.

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I started this letter-writing project in October of 2010, and I just finished it. For now, it is something few have seen, and even fewer have heard me talk about.  It exists only between the covers of this journal, safely tucked away on my bookshelf.

In the beginning, I never thought I would show or tell anyone. But my family became curious, and soon I shared it with them. Then the best friend found out by accident, and I finally had enough gumption to tell my roommate in New York City when she saw me woking on it. I never thought I would actually finish these Dear You letters, but I have, and it feels amazing, and satisfying. But now, it seems like a part of me is missing. It's only been an hour since I wrote the last letter, and it already feels like I can never go back to those pages.

This is insane, because of course I can go back. Right now, however, it doesn't feel possible. Though this project is complete, I am hoping I can keep writing and working through this idea I got on a stormy fall night, and turn it into something that others will want to read.

I must admit, I have some qualms about ever really showing the things I've written here to the public. But I read somewhere recently that if the things you write embarrass you, or are things, which remain too close to your secret heart, then those are the things with the most impact.

Though I'm not entirely ready to say too much more about this burgeoning project with any of you invisible readers out there, I do want to preserve this feeling of loss that has eclipsed my joy over finishing this. Such is another part of being a writer that I never knew about. It seems I am discovering something new about myself and my writing with each project I work on, and that is something worth sharing.

So if you get to actually find this in a bookstore someday, and you've taken it between your hands to read, I know you might have many questions. Which is really great. Questions are things, which keep me up at night. Questions give me the stamina to continue writing when it seems I'm about to delete everything I've worked on.

And if you're reading these letters I've addressed as Dear You, and you're wondering, who me? I want you to know I started this for me, but finished it for my sister, and my mom, and the best friend, and you, my invisible reader. I hope these words find you some day, and I hope they give you the same strength they've given me the past three years.

All best,Kayla King.png

Author's Note

Dear Reader,                                                                               

Here is the story of this story as chronologically factual as I can remember:

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The Beginning—So almost three years ago I was sitting in a classroom with my fellow seniors. The class was Experimental Writing, and with the exception of one or two other people, I was the only one who enjoyed writing. I had been writing poetry for five years, even used a few of those poems for the class. But I'd never written real fiction until this class.

As soon as I started working on flash fiction pieces, I fell in love with the written word all over again. So when the teacher gave us the freedom to create our own project I thought, that sounds like fun. I liked to write, even seemed to be somewhat good at writing, so I thought it would be easy to come up with an idea. 

The amazing thing was that I didn’t have to come up with an idea on my own. My best friend leaned across his desk, mentioning something about a story involving fairytales, about fairytale charactersperhaps. I immediately started getting ideas about all the stories I'd loved as a child. I knew I wanted the final project to be an actual storybook, pictures and all, yet I waited until the last minute to write the story. Being an extreme case of human procrastination, I had a slight notion as to how I was actually going to conquer this idea, but in waiting to the final moment, it transformed into something I hadn't expected. "Falling" turned into something I actually liked.

I handed the project in, all fourteen, single-spaced pages of my short story, and I received a 100%. Perfect score. Imperfect story. Fast forward to the end of the year. To graduation. To pictures with aforementioned best friend. To a really long plane ride across the ocean to England with said best friend, and an incredible trip abroad. From there, I wrote one poem and some essays, but this story, the one you might someday hold in your hand, it was buried deep in my brain, and I had no intentions of ever digging it back up. 

I was going to be an interior designer instead.

It was the plan. 

Interior design was something I had planned for from middle school onward but writing…writing was a passion, which came naturally. Writing was something I'd always done.  It helped me get through the difficult things. (Well writing, mixed with Time, and a best friend, the same best friend previously mentioned.) So I felt I owed quite a bit to writing, to the art and craft of writing, to my own writing. Imagine my surprise when the thing I thought I feared, the decision I never thought I could make, felt easy. You see, after about two weeks at college, I loaded a fresh document in Microsoft Word before restarting a story. THE story. The one I hope you will see on a bookshelf someday. I finished the first three chapters, and then stopped to pick up another project. The funny thing is, I never gave up hope for this story. It sat in a binder labeled BOOK as it didn’t have a title at the time, and the entirety of this magical world stayed dormant until October 2011. 

The Middle—October 2011 was a rather boring month of the fall semester. I still hadn’t been admitted into the Writing major just yet. I wasn’t taking any writing classes. So I was thinking what is the point? I was taking a Literary Analysis class, Sociology, British Literature part deux, and Intro. to Math. The closest thing to my kind of writing was an essay about The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. Imagine my surprise when one day, bored to death in my Brit. Lit. class, it was there, a seedling of an idea; instantaneous. And from there, for the next three weeks, I took pages and pages of notes, researched Grimm’s Fairytales, translations of "Ring Around the Rosie," fleshed out characters, documented what will be five books worth of information, and created a name. A working title.

Around the third week of note taking, I decided it was time to get my thoughts organized. Looking back now, I think I needed an excuse not to start writing. It seemed scary, because for the first time, I didn’t feel like I was telling the story, but rather my characters were. I always thought it pure insanity, maybe even nonsensical when people would talk about how make-believe people would tell their own story. But somehow, they did. It is something you might only understand if it happens to you.

But I digress.

Out of fear or paranoia or whatever, it took me until the end of October to actually start writing. The first four chapters were fairly easy, because much of those pages grew out of my rough draft from the fall of 2010. After that, it was new, especially because my fifth character was a brand new addition. Nine months later, I finished a book, my book, my novel! I guess it is right in saying it feels like my child (nine months…get it?). So I will beg you to someday handle this story with care.

The End—This is still unknown. The book is finished, and with several rounds of revisions under way, it is definitely much more grammatically correct. For the next few months, I will be polishing, and when aforementioned friend returns from Australia, we will sit and fix what's broken so that I can start sending this out to agents. And from there? Well, I guess I leave this to the hands of the literary gods in hopes that someday I will see this next to my Harry Potter books and my bright pink copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I hope one day you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. But I guess that is half the battle as a writer; truly enjoying your own book despite all the late nights, the revisions, the paper cuts, the timelines, genealogical charts, character sketches, maps, and the plethora of information that is only pertinent in your own head. But know this is the story I always wanted to write, and I suppose deep down this story always wanted to be written. It persevered through senior year of high school, a change of school and major, a change of title, and almost two years later, it is the story my best friend inspired me to write: a story about fairytales. 

I am leaving this story here so that one day when the memory becomes somewhat blurry, when the details are too difficult to remember, I can look back and say yes, that is how it happened. Until then, I can’t wait to fall through!

All best,Kayla King.png