Dear Caitlin Moran...
Dear Caitlin Moran,
It feels weird being so formal when I feel like I have known you for such a long time - but of course, I have never known you. It has been an entirely imaginary relationship in my head, but a very fruitful one.
I fell headlong into your writing during the summer of 2013, when an a level creative writing teacher pressed How To Be A Woman into my hand and told me I would enjoy the book. Being the stubborn twat that I am, I refused to read it for months.
I’m not good with people telling me what I will and won’t like.
(As a side note, I’m writing this while listening to Cass Elliot’s Make Your Own Kind Of Music, which feels like a sufficiently cool enough song. Or not. I don’t have a good measure of ‘cool’.)
But eventually I did read HTBAW, mostly because I ended up not having a choice when we were studying various non-fiction books as part of one of our modules. It took approximately the sentence ‘I imagine they were confused by both Annie Lennox and Boy George when they appeared on Top of the Pops’ for me to have fallen head over heels into a literary love affair that hasn’t yet abated.
I had always known I’d wanted to be a writer in some capacity, but never knew what sort of writer I was. But here was the answer in front of me, bound in a forest green cover and containing the sort of secrets no-one had ever whispered to me before.
Ever since then, I’ve been trying to become that writer.
Your writing has formed the backdrop to my life ever since that creative writing class finished. I devoured everything I could get my hands on, subscribed to The Times, raced through Moranthology, and eagerly awaited the released of Moranifesto, How To Build A Girl, and more recently How To Be Famous.
I didn’t know people could make careers out of writing about the things that they loved. In your own words, by ‘pointing at them’. I didn’t know people could make careers out of the kind of kickass feminism 16 year old me so desperately needed.
HTBAW changed everything for me. Your writing changed everything for me.
I’ve reread/relistened to (the audiobooks are FAB) How To Be A Women, Moranthology, and Moranifesto at least every other month for the past sixish years. Highly recommend to anyone reading this that you listen to a chapter a night before bed. You’ll wake up a little bit smarter and a little bit readier to take on the world.
My blog now serves as a space where I can write about the things that are important to me, where I can point at things I think other people should know about, where I can be a little bit silly on occasion. One day I want to be doing this full time. For now, just writing is enough.
And I truly don’t think I would be writing if I hadn’t found your work, and for that I am eternally grateful. The mix of truth telling, witticisms, brutal honesty, and life anecdotes spoke to me in more ways than one. How you can go from writing about your 13th birthday, to lamenting how you are the only one who lights the candles, to the letter to your daughter - I now know I don’t have to put my writing into one box.
I can write about whatever I want. I can be a strident feminist. I can love drag shows, and tea dresses, and travelling back to the same places time and time again, and I don’t have to try and be cool.
I always come back to your words.
Especially in moments of crisis. Christ knows I’ve had enough moments of crisis. NYE is a time to reread your advice for 2014 (with an abnormally large glass of gin in hand (who I am kidding, it’s usually a water bottle full of gin on the train)). Wobbly moments are a time for your posthumous letter for your daughter, or your letter to teenage girls. Times when I need to remember who I am I scour through your old columns until I find the exact one that tells me what I need to hear, what I already know, and what I can’t always remember.
I am not a teenage girl anymore, but sometimes I need to remember that I was once, and there was Bad Year after Bad Year and sometimes I still buy myself flowers and put them at the end of my bed so the first thing I think when I wake up is not oh god I wish I hadn’t and is instead about flowers.
The flowers help. The writing helps. I don’t know who I would be without either of those things. And gin. And books and mascara and music and all those amazing things that we are blessed to have on this earth, in this lifetime.
You taught me how to be a woman. And for that, I will never be able to thank you enough.
Tights, boots, shorts, tshirt, revolution.