The Mixed Blessing Of Bookstores

(Powell’s in Portland, OR)

Inspiration or demotivation for a writer?

Last Friday night I went to Barnes & Noble in Newport Beach to pick up a game I’d ordered online (Wordspiel, fun). Of course I took the opp to check out the books too.


Sometimes I find it exhilarating to be around published books. I want to run right home and work on my novel. I could be on the shelves at B&N too someday! People could be choosing my book to read out of all the others. That’s an exciting thought because I don’t write only for myself.

That feeling is the lightness and joy I feel when contemplating how I can create something new for the world. Yayyy!

But other times, like last Friday, I find it overwhelming and depressing to be around all those published books. Why bother writing? There’s so much great stuff to read already and I won’t even have time to make a dent in it. I don’t read enough as it is (according to my standards).

The weight of excuses starts piling up until I just want some form of escapism to take my mind off the idea of writing at all. Games, movies, TV, romance novels…

Also, the sticky whispers of self-sabotage start singing to me… you aren’t as good as these writers, you don’t have enough time or energy to write seriously, you have no contacts in publishing, you’ll never get anywhere, never be read by more than a few, never make money, yada yada blahhh…

I really wanted to buy a dozen books, go home and read like mad, and forget all about NaNoWriMo. But books are so costly! I still have a ton of crappy free ones on my Kindle and dammit I’m going to waste my brain on those.

And do NaNo like I said. I guess. πŸ‘»πŸŽƒ

18 responses to “The Mixed Blessing Of Bookstores

  1. Write! People read more than one book, you know. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with NaNo!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. NaNo is quite an undertaking my hat is off to you on that. There will still be lots of books in the store once Na No is over so you are not missing anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You can’t give up! Keep writing πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. best wishes for NaNo, books shops inspire me to run home to read and write, so hard to choose between the two too

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Keep writing — I’ve had exactly the same experience in book stores — although the ones I go to are usually no as “corporate” as Barns and Noble. I’d recommend hitting a couple of REAL bookstores, that have the older, more esoteric stuff. I picked up an anthology and a copy of Canetti’s “Notes from Hampstead” at McMurtry’s bookstore out in God’s Country (Archer City, TX) for essentially pocket change, the soft-cover anthology being #45 (printed in 2002) and which is presently finishing up the reading period for #70 and #71 and have closed submissions until June 2019, which should be just about enough time to get something written for them to reject, and a full set of Bradbury from the creaking third floor of an ancient bookstore in a university town, along with Danielewski, and Asimov and a leather-bound copy of “Classic Horror Tales” (1840s thru about 1926). And I see all the stories and all the talent and I KNOW I’m not competing with Bradbury or Poe or Asimov or McCarthy. But the more I read, the more I realize — for all the hubris implied — I can outwrite a LOT of people who have massive followings, whether I have any following at all or not. I write for my own pleasure, and at least some of that pleasure comes from being able to say, “Yeah Gibson, Klimenko, Duhamel and Beam, you have published works, a following, a presence, which I probably never will — but you couldn’t have written THAT.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Me ditto re bookstores. I avoid ’em. I’m still picking up the debris from the slow train wreck just now grinding to a halt. But it’s the dawn of Nov 2 and I haven’t given up on NaNo yet. Yay me!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Since it’s the 2nd of November, and I haven’t written a lick for NaNo, my first inclination is to say that I’m not in this year. But I say that every year, and wind up either doing it as a matter of sheer masochistic dumbassery or failing to do it and taking comfort from remembering I hadn’t planned to do it at all in the first place. In my NaNo history I’ve started as late as a week in and fnished it, and started at midnight on the 1st, and never got further than 5000 words. But it never seems reasonable to just leave it alone and walk away clean and happy, although I’ve tried, which is a testament to effective advertising/peer pressure and/or my uttter inability to grasp my own time/capability/talent/inventiveness limitations.

    We’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I used to feel similarly about art fairs. Sometimes I’d go and get all fired up to do my own work, and then other times I’d want to cry because I wasn’t doing my own work. Now nothing inspires or motivates me, nor do I care that I’m not doing any art. I figure I’m just in a transitional phase.

    Liked by 1 person

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