Monday, February 24, 2014

Bookstore Intimidation

I love being inside bookstores and libraries. Some of my fondest memories as a child are from visiting the library or going up to the children's floor of Barnes and Noble and reading and reading for hours. Sorry about that, Barnes and Noble. But as I've gotten older and become a little bit more serious about wanting to become a writer (I would say that this phenomenon began sometime around high school) I sometimes experience what I call "bookstore intimidation" when I walk into a bookstore or library. Now, this a terrible term for this condition because that last sentence just showed you that "bookstore intimidation" had happen in both bookstores and libraries. And also online on goodreads or amazon. And elsewhere, you know what, forget it.

Let me actually explain what I mean by "bookstore intimidation" before I get caught up in the terminology I made up. Have you ever thought about how many books and plays and graphic novels and other written materials with a narrative have been written already? Have you ever just thought about how many of these things exist in the universe, not to mention all the television show and movie scripts? It's not difficult to see why people claim there's nothing new under the sun and we keep telling the same stories over and over. This is a part of bookstore intimidation. As a reader this can be a wonderful thing. How can you ever get bored? There are so many things that have been created to entertain and engage you. Or it can also be terrifying when you realize you can't possibly read all the books that you want to read. But this brand of bookstore intimidation is about writers.

Sometimes I don't know how other unpublished writers who have ambitions to write books can walk into a bookstore and not have panic attacks. How can you say, I want to add to this massive literary tradition without being choked by the anxiety that you couldn't possibly produce something that hasn't already been written? Where is that place for you on the shelves? Even if you did manage to finish a manuscript and miraculously get it published, how would anyone find you in this sea of books full of material much worthier of an audience's time? This is bookstore intimidation. 

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