From The Mailbag

Dear Michael,

My life was a disaster. My husband left me for another man and took my truck. With four-wheel drive. My dog bit me. The bank repossessed my house. I was illiterate and unemployable. My husband had always been my sole source of income before. What oh what could I do?

I lived in a cardboard box in an alley, my only friend a rusty battered shopping cart with one wheel missing. When I could, I slept in the lobby of the local library, but only on shifts when the old lady with no sense of smell was working. No one else could stand to be in my presence. I ate leftovers from dumpsters. I learned how to make a lovely drink by swishing tap water around in an empty bottle of HP Sauce.

One day I walked into the library for a nice long nap, but there were winos on every couch. So I walked over to a computer terminal, resigned to sleeping in a chair. Again. But there on the screen was NO EDIT FOR YOU. I like food.

It was like a revelation to me. Writing? I’d never thought of it before. But I gave it a shot, following your advice and clinging onto every precious word. I learned about spelling, grammar and punctuation. I learned the difference between verbs and verbiage. I learned about dialogue, plot, dangling modifiers, misplaced modifiers, characterization, descriptive passages, narrative, exposition, active voice, and Tom Swifties. And adverbs. I like adverbs.

Writing and publishing were my tickets out of the cardboard box in the alley. A way to quit pushing that squeaky shopping cart. To sleep in an honest-to-goodness bed again. To bathe. To buy new clothes. To learn how to live again! I got a better husband, a bigger truck, a new dog, and a mansion.

This is all because of your unparalleled generosity in writing such a wonderful newsletter, and I will be forever in your debt. Not financially — these billions are mine — but in my heart.

With warmest regards,
££ Rowling