a letter to stephen.

A few weeks ago, I sent this to Stephen Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being A Wallflower. Along with it, a note explaining that I didn't write it for him, but I wanted him to read it. And a letter. Tonight I got an email from a woman who works for him saying he was so impressed by my talent as a writer that he wants to call my parents & I. So here is something for you to read, that I didn't write for you or Stephen or anyone but myself.

"So I looked up, and we were in this giant dome like a glass snowball, and Mark said that the amazing white stars were really only holes in the black glass of the dome, and when you went to heaven, the glass broke away, and there was nothing but a whole sheet of star white, which is brighter than anything else but doesn't hurt your eyes. It was vast and open and thinly quiet, and I felt so small." (from Perks.)

I haven't been out on my roof since the night in early summer where he and I stayed up until the sunrise and I almost fell asleep out there, blinking my heavy eyes quickly just to stay awake. Since it's one of my last nights here until I leave forever, I grabbed a blanket and a flashlight and Perks. Crawled out onto the roof. And read until I couldn't feel my fingers.

It's hard to see the stars tonight. The moon is too bright and washes them out. It's better than it has been though, where the fog and clouds smudge up the sky until there aren't any visible stars at all. It's a trade-off, I guess, because I love the rain and I love the stars and it's hard to choose which I love more.

I moved into this house five and a half years ago, and countless times, I've stood outside in the middle of the road with a cat, just staring at the sky. Once in the middle of winter I went to the middle of the field across the street, camera in tow, and took a few hundred pictures. I think the book that night was L'Engle, A Ring of Endless Light, maybe. It was cold then too and I didn't come back inside until I couldn't feel my fingers.

One of the hardest part about living in the city is the absence of visible stars. I know that soon I'll move up to the mountains and if I want I can drive up and down the Greenhorn Park in the middle of the night until I get tired of the stars. For now though, I feel cheated out of another fall spent staring at the sky.

...It's weird to read Perks again. I was 15-almost-16 the first time I opened it, on an airplane seated next to a woman who smiled at me without saying anything. Now I'm 6-months-past-17 and it's dizzying to think about how much has changed since the first time I met Charlie. And it's dizzying to think about what hasn't changed and should have. Like on page 93 I underlined these words, "maybe I'm being sentimental, but I like to think that when I'm old, I will be able to look at all these tapes and remember those drives." In the margins of the page I wrote in my handwriting that loops in the same direction even after thousands of words written on journal pages, "music gets tangled up in memories." I don't remember writing those words. I do remember opening up a document on my computer later that night after my plane landed in Indianapolis and writing this, "sometimes I wake up and my iPod is tangled in my hair. I like to think that the music tangles through my hair and into my mind while I sleep, dictating my dreams."

And it's funny to think of how the person who wrote both those words inside the book and those words on a computer screen isn't the same person who's writing these words now. That other girl is still there, and she's still a part of me, but I've had a year and a half of tears&laughter&loss that 15-almost-16 me didn't have and that's changed me in good and bad ways.

I can laugh now at what I said about the music dictating my dreams because, while it's a nice thought, frankly it's ridiculous and not to mention badly written. The other one though- what was I thinking when I wrote that?  And what pencil did I use? And was it one I pulled from the jar on my desk? And I can't remember, did I even have that jar then? And if it was from the jar, did it have chew marks on the eraser or was it one of the really tiny ones I have a bad habit of stealing from libraries? Or was it the purple pencil Dylan-nicknamed-Katie's-Dylan-because-we-were-best-friends gave to me for Christmas in 8th grade? And after I wrote it, did I stop and sigh because of the heavy truthfulness of it all? Or did I cry because there wasn't any music to mark that moment?

And I wonder what Charlie would think of all this.



  1. Write a book. Seriously, do us all a favour and write a book. You're brilliant!

  2. KATIE. i'm in awe. seriously, you're amazing.

  3. this made me "asdfghjkl" over and over again until i was out of breath. echoing hope's words, please katie, write a book! and make sure not to forget all your faithful blogger readers when you make it big. ;]

  4. I remember reading this the first time and it was wonderful. it is wonderful. so beautiful, k.

  5. I'm so proud of you and happy for you, Katie.

    I first read Perks a little over six months ago, when I was fifteen and in L.A. for the first time. Something felt so right about sitting & reading it on the fraying carpet in the hallway of a hotel with a dismal view of the broken down pool and a few palm trees dotting the concrete. Charlie really resonated with me, maybe unlike any other fictional character had before. And at the end, when he kind of changed and decided to stop writing, it made me so sad because I no longer felt like I had anyone to relate to. Maybe it's stupid. But I was a wallflower and it was nice to know that I wasn't the only one, you know? Now, it's seven months later and I'm sixteen and I'm in another grade. And I'm still a wallflower, but I have hope. It's like what the back cover says, isn't it? "Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor..." I think it's time for me to see what it looks like from the dance floor. I'll probably never be a extrovert, but I've started, kind of, opening up a little, trying new things. And it feels good. So maybe I understand Charlie a bit better now. Maybe I've misjudged the whole thing. But that book means a lot to me, and I know it does to you too. I think it's great that you wrote all this, and obviously it's effective -- look how much it's spurred me to write already! I hope you get to talk to Stephen Chbosky. That would be so amazing. Almost as amazing as you are. :)

  6. *wipes tears* I read this in the car. You know when. On my way home from a Dustland Fairytale. Slightly disoriented. Thinking, how can someone write something this amazing? I'm so very very proud of you. Please sign my copy of your book. Love you.

  7. This reminds me of when Augustus and Hazel sent Peter Van Houten emails and he "invited" them to Amsterdam. Who knows, maybe Stephen Chbosky will invite you to visit him, because you're awesome enough, you know. Which reminds me, we really need to talk to John Green and get him to write An Imperial Affliction...

  8. Katie, you're amazing. Although I don't know if this took umpteen rewrites, it just feels so effortless and raw. You've got talent.

  9. This is stunning! And that's so amazing! I hope you get to speak to him! :)
    Kimmy x

  10. I enjoyed reading this. :) what profundity. I have to agree with Stephen Chbosky on this one - I'm impressed. :)

  11. katie, the way you write is simply stunning. I've always admired your work more than any other bloggers. This is perfectly written and expresses such true feelings.
    Oh, and if you end up talking on the phone with him, you better give us the story :)

  12. An old butterfly that I'd assumed had died seven months ago began beating its wings as I read this post... and memories I'd shoved away all summer fluttered awake and told me I missed something I'd fought to forget. I didn't know til now that it was possible to hear your feelings through someone else's words, and to have another's heart resuscitate your own. It almost hurt physically to keep reading. But thank you for sharing so freely; I do believe your words were exactly what I needed to reawaken.

    And -- don't hate ;) -- I haven't yet read Perks. But now I fully intend to.

  13. Perks was honestly one of the most relatable and truthful books I have ever read. It touched my heart in ways that I simply cannot explain. You just made it better, which is an accomplishment, believe me.

    When I read this the first time (I've started to form a read-everything-twice habit, after reading Perks) I was really angry with you, and more so at myself, for not doing what you did - writing what you wrote. I would say that I wish I could write like you, because I do, but it's more than the writing; it's the way you feel about things, how you think about things. You think so beautifully. You read that passage and thought to write in the margin, "music gets tangled up in memories" (meanwhile, I was worried about opening the pages too far and breaking the spine). You then wrote that beautiful piece on your computer, "sometimes I wake up and my iPod is tangled in my hair. I like to think that the music tangles through my hair and into my mind while I sleep, dictating my dreams." You really felt that and thought that and wrote that in the moment. It's something that I hope one day to be able to do.

    I will leave you with that. I hope that you take that as a compliment, because that was kind of all over the place and possibly hard to follow.

    This, in addition to Perks - all of it - has affected me in so many ways. Thank you.


  14. gaaahh I need to read this book. also that's amazing about the email you got! this was just beautiful.

  15. You're brilliant. I'm so wonderfully happy for you. You're going far, lady.

  16. This whole post makes my heart smile.
    I just read Perks for the first time a week ago, as a 21 (and a half) year old.

    The book, this post, and so many other things makes me want to write the way you just did. It takes a lot of vulnerability to write. I'm still working on that.

  17. your writing is SOOOO good! I greatly enjoyed this Katie and this is soo awesome !