An Open Letter to George Lucas: Thank You

Dear Mr. Lucas,

You get a lot of flak from fanboys sometimes, but now that you’re basically retiring, I wanted to share how much your work has inspired me to be doing what I am today. No, I won’t ever be the billionaire you are. No, I probably won’t ever innovate and inspire multiple generations of creative people… But, I don’t aspire to that. And I don’t think you did initially, either.

Like most people in their late 20s, I saw Star Wars when I was very young. Return of the Jedi was released 26 days before the day of my birth, so the complete original trilogy has been around as long as I’ve been alive. I watched all three movies during a very important developmental time in my life. I was playing with Lego, action figures, and video games. I was beginning to read my first full-length novels, and I was actually starting to write out the adventures of characters of my own creation. It was a magical time in my life, and The Star Wars Trilogy helped solidify in my mind that ANYTHING was possible.

I was obsessed with your work for a long time. I would mow lawns to save up the money to buy all the Star Wars novels that would release. I knew the names of all the characters in the Cantina and Jabba’s Palace (Max Rebo should have his own spin-off TV series). I had reams of loose leaf pages full of the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, and, I’m sure, any number of Mary Sue characters (I didn’t understand the concepts of hackney, character flaws, or other typical fan fiction tropes).

The main point was, though, that I was reading. I was writing. I was creating. Because of Star Wars, I was introduced to other sci-fi and fantasy: Frank Herbert, Philip K. Dick, Raymond Feist, Isaac Asimov, HP Lovecraft, Stephen King. I even credit Star Wars with getting me into reading comic books (I started reading the excellent comics by Dark Horse… I hope that they don’t lose the license due to the sale, because they are STILL telling interesting stories).

You, Mr. Lucas, made me a geek.

Thank you.

I was also inspired by your example. You wanted to make the movies that you loved and thought were interesting. I respected that. I don’t think you’ve ever taken the easy way out, so when it came time for me to decide to study what I loved at university (Creative Writing and English), or pleasing everyone else with a degree program I liked (and had half-completed) but didn’t love, I made the difficult choice to leave my major and start anew. I graduated a little late because of it, and sometimes I second-guess my decision, but here I am. I write for a living. I edit other people’s writing for a living. So, thank you for your example.

Sir, the possibility of you reading this letter is approximately 3,720 to 1 (probably less, but I wanted to make the Threepio joke), but I wanted you and everyone else that reads this to know that you have shaped my life in a myriad of ways. I probably have a beard today because of some unconscious desire to be a little bit like you.

Finally, I wanted to let you know how much I respect you for the charity work you do. You have a lot of money, and that could buy a lot of golden parachutes, but the amount of money you’ve pledged to give away to charity is inspiring.

So, for all the worlds and mythologies you’ve created, I thank you. While you’re retired, I doubt you will remain inactive, and I wish you the best. I, for one, would love to see you do those smaller movies you’ve been talking about for a long time.

Tj Johnston

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