Thank-You Notes for Writers

In college, I was lucky enough to spend a semester studying in Paris. About a month into my stay, I found myself frustrated with the French, and France, and my entire program, generally missing home and wondering what in the hell I'd gotten myself into. I had cheese and Nutella and wine and the company of a best friend, but I was cold, I missed my family (and the sun), I stepped in dog poop in the sidewalk at least once a day, and I was learning first-hand how little the Parisians wanted to help me with my French. 

In front of Shakespeare and Co.
When I came across a battered copy of A Year in the Merde in a used bookshop in the city, imagine my delight at finding that Stephen Clarke had had all of the same troubles I was having at that very moment:
Dear Mr. Clarke, I just wanted to say thank you for A Year in the Merde.  I just moved to Paris, and I will be studying here for the next semester. I have not enjoyed Paris as much as I had expected to - the French and I just don't see eye-to-eye - but your book took everything about France and the French that drives me insane and, magically, made it laughable and humorous.  I laughed so much while reading your book, and afterwards when experiencing things that you wrote about, and I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it and how much of a difference it made knowing I am not completely insane in my thoughts here.

Thank you,
And his response, which came only a few days later, made my day:
glad you enjoyed the book. you do know there's a
volume two called merde actually, don't you? it might
help you continue your laughotherapy.
like uranium and tobacco smoke, prolonged exposure to
france can cause lasting damage.

bonne lecture
I've since come to appreciate my time in Paris, even going so far as to say I miss the place sometimes, but it was a harder transition than I ever could have anticipated. Stephen Clarke's words--in his book and in his email--let me know I wasn't alone in my struggles to appreciate the City of Light. How could I ever thank him enough?

Last day in Paris, at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Or as far up as we were allowed to go that day, anyway.

Have you ever written a thank-you note to a writer?


Over at Go Mighty, you can sign up to join the Mighty Girl community and participate in the #thankawriter project. Bonus: For every #thankawriter submission, you'll be entered into a competition to win a set of Penguin's adorbs Drop Cap classics. I'm not participating or in anyway affiliated with the contest, but figured it was worth a share for anyone interested in thanking a writer and potentially winning some really lovely books.


  1. I'm sorry France was so blaaah when you were studying there. But that is awesome that you found that book, that you wrote the author a thank you note, and that the author responded :)

    1. It sounds so ungrateful now, because in hindsight, I really did have a fabulous experience. But it was also homesickness and loneliness like I'd never quite experienced before. That and I was only 18, so I wasn't as equipped to deal with the big, wide, international world as I thought I was. Or maybe I was more equipped then than I would be now because I didn't know what I was getting into.

      Still, it was a relief to find that not only was I alone, but I was not-alone enough for someone to have published a whole book about similar things!

  2. Love this post. And I love when you come across book that is just perfect for you in a certain time of your life.

  3. I love that you got a note back! I did a semester in London and there were hard moments, but I think it would have been much harder to be in a country where I didn't speak the language. In retrospect the memories are all pretty wonderful though.

    1. That's how I feel about it now. It was hard at the time, and I wanted to come home, but looking back on it, I wouldn't have given it up for the world.


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