Today’s Market Books Prisoner Mail

prisonerI’ve worked in the Writer’s Digest Market Books department for about 17 years, and I think it’s fair to say that during those 17 years we’ve averaged at least one letter from a prisoner per week. These letters have arrived addressed to every market book we do with the exception of Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market (thank goodness), about two thirds to Songwriter’s Market. (I guess the dudes in the Big House have a lot of time on their hands and a lot of blues to sing.)

Today I got three prisoner letters including the take-the-cake-with-the-file-in-it prisoner letter, a hand-written 12-page love-and-admiration note to one of our former editors. I seriously couldn’t put it down. It’s sweetly creepy and very upbeat. The grammar, punctuation and spelling are in the high end of prisoner letters overall. This inmate really poured his heart out; he’s very introspective and deep (although I’m sure his slanty backward handwriting probably means he’s deranged). He’s currently writing seven novels–I wonder if he knows about NaNoWriMo? (I guess it’s always NaNoWriMo when you’re in the slammer.)

Since most of you probably don’t get mail from imprisoned writers, I’ll leave you with a bit of wisdom from inmate #194994:

Being a fiction writer requires a reckless abandon, especially when you realize that you are entering a field that revolves around talented people. But one thing that pushes me beyond my discouragement is that fact that being a writer isn’t based on competition. If you’ve got a story to tell, tell it, and as long as it’s interesting, I’m sure people will be eager to listen, and technically that’s what being a writer is all about–us authors wanting people to listen and hopefully even be able to enjoy our stories.


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