Dear Margaret,

We met last night. I was at the very tail end of the line for book signing; you might remember that I was the person without an actual book to sign. I’m sorry about that. For whatever it’s worth, I have a few your books at home. And have lost a few more to good friends.

I felt a little funny about it, standing there in line in Clowes Hall after one of Butler University’s mid-week Visiting Writers Series events. It was hot and late and my feet hurt and I knew I still had to drive home and then write something about the event before work in the morning. And I’ve never given a shit about autographs. But here’s the thing: you’re this bright spot and I just couldn’t bring myself to leave.

So, there I am, standing in line. Thinking specifically about what I remember from your introduction or foreword or whatever it was—I gave my copy to Carrie Gaffney—to Moral Disorder. And what I remember was a story about how, early on, you set out to find your crazy–because all the really good artists are crazy–and then eventually you gave up on being crazy because you didn’t mind laundry and you didn’t like smoking and you’d decided the whole thing might be overrated.

That’s what I remember, anyway. It’s possible you never wrote an introduction to that collection. Or that it was actually about penguins in the Falklands. Regardless: through that book, I came to terms with the idea that personal sanity’s not an excuse for mediocre writing. It’d been something I’d secretly worried about–that if I wasn’t going to lose it, I didn’t stand a chance.

I owe you for that. Really.

Of course, I didn’t tell you that. I smiled and asked how you were doing. I also didn’t tell you that I’d like to be friends. I think you’d be an awesome friend, because: 1. You’re hilarious. 2. You have historical fixations. 3. You continue to learn. 4. You know and care about things that have lasting social implications. 5. You said this: “There’s always hope. It’s built in. And it catches. Wherever there’s hope, there will be more hope.” 6. You also said this: “Now I know that vampires are sexy, that they sparkle in the sun, and we all want one of our own.”

I didn’t tell you because there was never going to be enough time. And because I assume that sometimes you might get tired of the gushing. And the friend-thing is probably always just weird.

But I did say thank you. And I meant it. For a making “Can You Write the Future?” such an engaging lecture and highlight of the Butler Writer’s Series. For being a contemporary female literary icon. For calling the world as you see it. For being quirky and relentlessly hopeful. For not being crazy-crazy.

As I said, I owe you. I assume you’ll be able to track me down whenever you’re ready to call in that favor.

Jenny Walton