One of the things Kleon encourages in Steal Like an Artist is the writing of fan mail – let your artistic heroes know that they are, in fact, your artistic heroes. And then, as the title suggests, steal their ideas. Make them better. Borrow their inspiration and take it someplace new. Improve on the trail they’ve already blazed.
In my world, 2012 was dubbed “The Year of Change.” In the spirit of men who’d made their lives experiments (this is your fault Morgan Spurlock and A.J. Jacobs), each month that year I undertook a new thirty-day challenge. In January, I listened to only Christian music. In May, I ate a completely vegan diet. And in November, I dedicated myself to personally writing and mailing one thank you note a day. I wrote notes to staff members at the church where I work; I wrote notes to my favorite bands; I even wrote a note to local Lexington celebrity Mr. Sparkle the Car Wash Guy.
A book-nerd, of course I had to write to my favorite authors – the artists and wordsmiths I most attempt to steal from. So on November 14th, 2012, I sent a note to Donald Miller and C.S. Lewis via their respective publishing companies. And yes, I was aware that C.S. Lewis had been dead for nearly fifty years when I put his letter into the mail – but that certainly hadn’t stopped his books from profoundly affecting my life.
My friend Nikki left a comment on that blog, jokingly suggesting that I ask C.S. Lewis what he ate to make him such a genius. So, of course, I opened up the envelope and added that as a PS before mailing.
I never in a million years expected, two years later, to find this in my mailbox.
Mr. Kleon was right – you should definitely write fan mail.