In honor of Galentine’s Day this year, Katie reopened submissions for The Fan Mail Project and reminded us how important it is for us to use our voice and talk about the qualities and values that matter to us. That it’s important for us to tell our stories. So I thought it was time for me to share another one of my own letters, this time to a fictional character I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. The Newsflesh series is one of the pieces of fiction that make up the foundation of who I am and who I want to be and Georgia is a big part of that. And while this letter is addressed to George, I also have to thank Seanan McGuire for every word she’s written in this universe. It has meant the world to me.
If you have a fictional character who has shaped your life, I once again ask you to consider participating in this incredible project. Writing these letters is an emotional experience but so worth it.
More than ever, I wish you were real. I wish After the End Times were real. We may not have zombies for Shawn to poke but we need your commitment to truth and inability to stay quiet about the things that are most important. We need your tendency to dig until you get to the root of a story and your ability to make people care. We need your reminder to rise up while we can.
Thank you for valuing truth. The very concept of “post-truth” or “alternative facts” that we seem to be stuck with right now would infuriate you. But it would also motivate you to push harder and to investigate deeper. You’ve never been content to accept the world as others present it to you and I admire that. You’re always looking for the facts independent of the story, not only for yourself, but so you can give them to your readers. You believe that people are smart enough to interpret facts for themselves so long as they are given access. In that, you may be a little idealistic, but I think it comes out of underestimating what makes you extraordinary.
Prioritizing truth the way you do is hard. It’s uncomfortable when the truth isn’t what we’ve been led to believe. It means constantly addressing those underlying beliefs we’re not even aware we possess and reevaluating them in the face of new information. It takes a lot of mental strength to be able to do it at all, let alone to live your life based on that principal. You aren’t scared by the hard truths because you know that it is only in them that we can truly be free and be better than we were. You embrace that discomfort because you recognize that it often means your information is just a little better than it was before and that is always your end goal.
But within all your facts, perhaps what I love the most about you is the fact that you never lose sight of the people affected by them. You see the damage rhetoric does to real, individual people and it offends you to your core. You see the way that the words you love so much are used as weapons and it makes you want to fight back. Irresponsible reporting from another age helped bring about the world you grew up in and you have made it your mission to do better because future generations deserve it. It’s never about an innate need to be right and to prove that you know more than everyone else. You don’t berate people who shrink away from facts in favor of a comforting lie. It has always been about using your voice and your skills in the best way you know how in the hope that it will make a difference. You know you can’t single-handedly change the culture of fear that exists in a post-Rising world. But you can refuse to be complicit in the way it is used to control every aspect of your lives. You could show people the truth and if it makes even one person less afraid or more aware, you would consider your job worth it. You would consider your life worth it.
You may not really be here but I am. Thank you for helping me clarify what I value and the kind of life I want to lead. I’m not a journalist but I am a media consumer. I can look closely at the information that is given to me. I can use multiple sources to better separate facts from opinion. I can seek the truth and share it with others. I can look at myself and investigate the biases I bring to my reading of news pieces. I can learn to be happy being uncomfortable.
Thank you for inspiring me to use my skills and passions to make a difference. Thank you for reminding me that I have a voice and it is my responsibility to use it. Thank you for being one of the bravest characters I’ve ever encountered. You never let the fear of retaliation hold you back. You knew there were many out there who thought your words were dangerous and who would stop at nothing to try to silence you but you never let them. You fought and you wrote and you didn’t give in and you motivated those around you to do the same. I hope that’s not a decision I have to make in my lifetime though I’m not feeling assured that it won’t be. I want your conviction that what I fight for is worth it, no matter what the cost, and the fortitude to face those costs head on. I don’t know that I have your strength but thank you for pushing me to find it.