A longer blog today but worth it I hope...
Putting anything up for public consumption (or not) is always a very exposing thing to do. The shear amount of material available on-line means that huge numbers of books and blogs will find no readers, podcasts go unheard...
And this is why, as I say at the end of my book, Eclipsed, receiving positive reviews and feedback from readers is always so welcome. Writing Eclipsed has been a cathartic exercise in itself and so worthwhile then even if it doesn't ever break even? But certainly worthwhile when I receive timely emails like one that arrived yesterday from Emma Turner. With Emma's permission, I have copied it in full below after this short introduction.
As I say in the book, I felt absolutely compelled to write Eclipsed. Writing such a book (about father and his illustrious son) is not without risks but I figured a risk worth taking and that I could manage with my writing and tone. So I wrote the book hoping that it would make a gripping and funny story about how life can play out. It is definitely then an unexpected upside to read Emma's email and understand the impact that the book can have. I have received other similar emails and where possible I encourage readers to leave reviews on this site - but reading Emma's mail was so touching, I asked her permission if I could publish it here. Also heartening is the fact that Emma is from Australia - a place I've never visited, but there is something romantic about knowing your story is not confined by geography via the internet. Not so surprising I guess given it is a world wide web but you know what I mean...
dear mr holland,
my high school librarian bought your book and had it set up on the "new reads" section in our school library, and i borrowed it with the intention of using your story as a related text for my year 12 english study on "discovery". after reading the blurb, i thought it might be interesting and full of good themes that i could link to my essay - father discovers son's talent, son discovers success, they both discover themselves, etc and basically whatever else i could spin in order to fit it with my essay. it was also an original text that i could hopefully scab a few extra marks for, because i was pretty certain my teacher had never read it...
i planned to read it over a weekend, so i got my other homework done to set aside the next 48 hours (i really wanted a good mark on this essay!) and woke up on saturday morning with my laptop beside me, ready to write.
i finished your story after two hours.
it was absolutely amazing - i don't even know how else to describe it. i've read similar sorts of stories before i guess, about fathers and sons, growing up, success and stardom. but yours is different in the best way possible - you are humble about your own achievements and about tom's and i can tell from the way that you tell your story that you are so, SO proud of him. my favourite part of "eclipsed" is the message underneath - or at least what i understand the most about your book, and the values hidden within. the importance of perseverance and hard work, mixed with talent and a bit of luck - and knowing that if it doesn't work out for you, you can always help others (like family) along their own pathway.
i'm only 18 but just like any high school leaver, my head is filled to the brim with big dreams and confused thoughts about the future! i have no idea what i want to do with my life - i don't know who i want to be, or what else i want to learn, or where i want to go. my interests are all over the place, and they're very different from each other so i'm having trouble sorting them out and deciding on which ones i would like to prioritise. the only two things i know for certain at the moment is that i want to 1) go to university and 2) live in new york city. one's achievable, one's a distant dream, and i thought a lot about how i could make both my dreams come true. the majority of people i talked to told me that new york was way too expensive, and i'd be 60 by the time i finally ended up there. people also told me that i could go to university, but how could i know for sure when i didn't even know what i wanted to study? but after reading your story, i understood. i can see that when you want something - whatever it is - you should strive for it with all your heart, because you never know where or when you'll be rewarded for effort. setbacks are not obstacles, and you should never give up!
no matter how cliche i sound right now, i wanted to write you this long and overly-informative email to thank you for your honest and funny book. in written words, it told me what i wish my careers counsellor had said a long time ago, and it inspired me to keep climbing to achieve what i want in life.
i can already tell that tom's going to be one of the top actors of my generation and i wish him success in the future! if you ever even read this email (i have no idea how this works), please let him know that he should come and visit australia, and i'll be the first to see 'spiderman: homecoming" in the australian cinemas, along with chris hemsworth!
so - thank you for your story "eclipsed". i've ordered myself a copy so i can have it with me and have it as a reminder to reach for the stars. i'm hoping to keep it on the bookshelf of my new york city apartment one day... you've probably inspired thousands of others, but i just wanted to let you know in person that it came from an unexpected place on my school library shelf and has pushed me to do more in life. oh, and i got a 19/20 on the essay! so i guess my english teacher thought it was pretty good too :-)