After reading Mary Gaitskill’s “Girl on a Plane”, I was moved by the craft of her writing and the way her words effected me. I have been practicing writing epistles for one if my other courses, and that inspired me to write a letter to Mary Gaitskill! The letter in itself explains more about the ways this story made me feel. If you haven’t already read this story, it is included in the Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction, written by Joyce Carol Oates.
Dear Mary Gaitskill,
I want my words to demand something from my readers, the way yours do. I read a short story of yours the other day, “The Girl on the Plane”. I was about half way through when I realized the power that your words had over me. They pushed me to read faster in some parts, and held me back to slow down in others. Your words made me feel as though I had entered your mind, and was in the moment you were describing. You made me hate John Morton, and feel as though he had personally offended me. I have not read any of your other work yet, and I apologize for that. But I can explain. Over the past few years, I have not been reading anything outside of class (and it’s strange, because I act like I’m too busy when in fact I have too much time to spare). This semester I am starting my second major, professional writing. I have learned in the past few weeks that to write effectively, you need to read consistently. You need to be inspired by others and absorb the ways in which they write in order to better your own craft. When I write I feel confident. However, after reading your story, I don’t want to feel confident. The way you write is different from any other piece I have read. It has inspired me to find my own voice. Often times when I read over my own words I feel like someone else wrote them. I want to learn to write in a way that people will recognize. I want to write in a way that is real, like the way you do. How do you get your words to seamlessly flow over the page? How do you transport me into a room i’ve never seen by simply describing it? These are questions I hope to one day find the answer to, questions that you have inspired me to discover. Thank you for writing in your own voice, as it has pushed me to begin the road to finding mine.