Dear My Favorite Author,

Having thought long and hard about different things I could thank you for, I have concluded with one thing:

thank you for inspiring me.

Children's books are great. We read them from the time we're born until our mid-years when we shift to chapter books and more mature novels and eventually science-fiction and romances that we immerse ourselves in and live the lives of the characters.

I'm not here to discredit the creativity and thoughts that my favorite children's books brought to my mind, because of course, that's how everything started, but it was your novel that truly made up my mind about writing. Having your novel as a guide to how I would want to write novels in the future, how I wanted to teach young adults more about mental health, how I wanted to write novels that young readers could relate to and finally understand that what they're feeling is normal , was influential in a way that no other teacher or book could be.

It was your novel that made me want to become a writer.

It was your writing, your passion, your innate ability to tell a story and make me immerse myself as the characters, that made me want to pursue writing and make my own creative thoughts into a story that another young reader would take to heart and learn from and enjoy.

It was your pure telling of a love story that impacted your life so greatly, that made me feel comforted and whole and reassured that I could be loved so deeply by another human being.

It was your words that taught me that what I was feeling was normal, that there are so many other people and teenagers in the world that feel the way that I do, that the bad thoughts in my head can be overcome by the good, and that I can have a positive and happy life outside of what others would tell me.

It was you that told me that "sometimes there's beauty in the tough words - it's all in how you read them". It was you that told me that "it's not what you take, it's what you leave". It was you that taught me that "the great thing about this life is that you can be someone different to everybody".

With every word of that novel, of my favorite novel, you taught me something more about myself.

You taught me that writing about my mental illness is okay because there could be someone like me in ten years that may need the reminder that it's going to be okay. You taught me that love is for everyone - it doesn't have a warning label and a parameter around who can feel it. You taught me that it's okay to cry when I'm writing because I surely cried enough when I was reading. You taught me that my mental health isn't determinant on my character as a human being, because labels are not what makes a person.

You taught me that I want to live in a world that could have been designed by Theodore Finch.

You taught me that "lovely" is a word that should be used much more than it is.

You taught me that characters in a novel can teach you more about unconditional love than any romance film or story could.

To My Favorite Author,

Thank you for teaching me, inspiring me, encouraging me.

It was you that brought me to where I am, today.

Thank you for everything.

I Was Here. C.P.