I often go to the bookstore and look around for a long time, sometimes an hour or more. Truth be told, it’s a bad habit of mine, as it can be the worst kind of procrastination. Because, in my mind, it’s justifiable. I tell myself that this is a lot better than sitting at home, playing Words With Friends. I’m surrounding myself with what I aspire to be! Of course the time is worth it! Still, procrastination is procrastination, and if I took a moment to really think about how many hours of actual writing (and reading, for that matter) I might have lost, I’d be depressed.
Still, I enjoy doing it. It’s a good motivational recharge. As I walk down the aisles filled with stories, I check out the jackets of the titles that catch my eye. I read about the authors, look at their pictures, wonder how old they are. I do this especially for newer authors, as not long ago they weren’t much different than me. It’s interesting to see which authors abandoned other successful careers, or which worked random jobs until they landed a publishing deal. Then there are the ones who multi-task (example: Chris Adrian, doctor and novelist) and it makes me question: where do they find the time? I wonder what my jacket will say when I make it. Maybe I’ll go for the simplistic approach. “Justin is a writer. He lives on Planet Earth.”
Being in the bookstore reminds me of why I want to be a writer. So many stories out there, and so many worlds created from a person’s mind. A lot of them are the same concept, recycled and reused. Vampire love story, detective mystery, haunted house, boy wizard…and then there’s the romance section! Even then, each is a reflection of the author. If all the books in the world were vampire love stories, I’d still read, because the real value, for me, is found in the nuances of how a concept is handled, not so much the concept itself. Though, I must admit, ghost stories are pretty cool.
So yes, it is normal for me to go around and think about how I would write a certain story already in print. I actually do this a lot, both with books and movies. I recently saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes (good flick, by the way) and it made me think about how I would handle a story where smart-ass apes took over the world. I saw a book in the bookstore about a zombie lovestory, and I wondered how I would make that work. To be honest, I didn’t think about that one that long because….well, it just sounds a little silly, doesn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie or read a book where a zombie showed a bit of emotion, but, hey, original is original!
But I digress. When it gets right down to it, I like being in the bookstore because, looking through all those stories, it reminds me what being a writer really means. For me, it’s having the the ability to change reality. Ideas for stories come from experience, and those ideas are altered and twisted in the mind. The world is seen in one way and then imagined in another. The power to change the rules, create life, scenarios, worlds, philosophies…all in the writer’s hands. It’s the closest anyone can come to ‘playing God.’
If I’m going to be perfectly honest (and why wouldn’t I be?): walking through those aisles also reminds me how little of an impact I’m likely to make. Even beyond getting published (which is a shot in the dark with a bullet-less gun in and of itself), there are so many books by so many authors, how many are lost in the folds? Still, I get giddy when one person reads my writing, so even if only a few hundred around the world did, I’d be happy. When I’m dead and gone, maybe history won’t remember Justin the Writer, but a few people might. And that’s worth something, isn’t it?
Do you ever wander the bookstore? Where do you get your inspiration that keeps you chugging away? Inquiring minds want to know….