Dear Brandon Sanderson

A friend once encouraged me to write fan-mail to the authors who have written books I can’t stop talking about. I have not followed her advice. Mostly because I think being a fan and even having fans is an entirely embarrassing enterprise.

I’ve watched the classes you have online for writers, so I know you already know the many ways I fawn over your writing: the pacing, the humor, your ability to keep your promises to the reader and to write women that are people (rather than the projected male fantasies that dominate the genre). Thank you. Thank you for letting characters fail and then, somehow, showing their successes in ways that eternally surprise and delight.

And thank for scrapping Apocalypse Guard from publication schedule. I was in the audience at Gen Con that groaned when the Marriot’s horrific Wifi wouldn’t download the chapter you planned to read. I’ve been desperate to read that book for months. Yet when I saw in the State of Sanderson that it was officially tabled, I rejoiced.

Brandon Sanderson broke a plot? and he couldn’t fix it? You failed at something you are, arguably, the best at in your field. My own shame at perpetually breaking plots and giving up rose to the surface and for once, it was manageable.

Yet your call to excellence remains consistent: failure is possible and probable, but it is only the beginning of new things to come. To remain stuck in shame and embarrassment is to miss and ignore so much possibility.

I am excited to read what Skyward becomes, hungry to see how the Cosmere grows in your capable hands, and content to live my own life alongside your characters.

Because when I read your books, I want better things: I want to be brave enough to write the emails that intimidate me. I want to sacrifice for others, to endure that which is mine to endure, to befriend the outsider in my midst, and I want desperately to see others with the same generosity and grace with which you portray them. I want to get over myself and write that stupid fan letter that’s been in my heart for years and years.

I also really, really want to be an Edgedancer and have begun to work on the first ideal. Journey before the destination.

You bring people together and you bring nerds out of the woodwork. You encourage writers and you inspire dreamers. May your work continue to delight and may the rest of us seek out our own possibilities.

Thank you for all the fun, Your Pancakefulness.


Elaine Schnabel

After graduating from Purdue University with an MA in communication, Elaine Schnabel moved to Indianapolis where she rolls her eyes at the electoral map while earning her MA in theology at Fuller Seminary (online). She works a variety of part time jobs and, if invited to, she will talk about her cat for hours. She dreams of being a writer, a researcher of religious communication, and a professional soccer player.

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