Inbetween the Pages
As an avid book collector I believe books, and some more than others, have souls. If you are a connoisseur of used book stores you will understand my thought on this idea.
I wrote a book! Do you know how hard that was for me to say out loud, and it's been two years since I put it to paper. But people look at you like 'sure, you wrote a book', then you get the implied eye roll. Well, no one actually did that but it felt like they could, or surely would if I said "I Wrote a Book' out loud. Initially I set out to write it just for me. The task of starting and finishing this thing that was inside of me. I had always wanted to write but never thought I could, and by could I mean I never thought I had anything to say...that anyone would want to read! This book wasn't something I dwelled on, or planned, it just happened.
One morning during Christmas break, in 2008, and by morning I mean 4:30 am, I woke up with a story idea, I kid you not. I had had that experience before, not as strong, and I never got up to write anything down. But this time I got up and grabbed a pen and paper and started to write. I started writing that day and didn't stop until the last day of school, end of May 2009....120,000 words later. It became an obsession! I will describe the experience like this...it's as though someone opened one of my veins and words poured out. When I wrote everything stopped around me, it was as though time stood still, I was somewhere else during those moments. The book was gift, I truly believe that.
My family knew I was writing the book, but even they stepped quietly around the issue. It was a burden to them because the book took me out of family life, as I said before, time for me stopped when I was writing. And the idea that I was writing a book, right, mom writing a book...seriously? "Oh God she's going to want us to read it and how do we not hurt her feelings when we have to tell her it's crap." So there were some really weird vibes being tossed around during that time. It was weird for me as well. I felt like I had a good story, I loved my characters. Tears would stream down my face sometimes when I would write, but I would just keep writing. It was as if I never knew what was going to happen next, and I was so taken in by the moments on these pages that the emotions just overwhelmed me sometimes...I was both the reader and writer of this book.
The day I finished the book I was elated, and I cried, oh did I cry. I knew I still had two books to write, to really tell the whole story, so I didn't have to say goodbye to my characters, not yet. But the epilogue, in this book, still can make me cry today when I read it. And it may not do a damn thing for anyone else, but it makes ME cry! I am writing the series backwards, the first book is the last in the series, so in essence the end was written and I think that's what hit hard for me...because I see all (3) books when I read the end, I know the challenges these two characters have faced. But I'm getting off track. The book is finished, now what?
Now what? Do I tell other people, do I let my family read this, what do I do now? Well I didn't tell other people at this point. I really wanted my daughter to read it. She was an avid reader, this was her genre', and she would be honest with me, to the point of brutality. But that's what I wanted, honesty!! Writing though...it's putting a part of yourself out there that no one else sees, not even your family really. You bare everything about yourself when you write, especially fiction. Fiction is something that comes from somewhere inside of you, stories that only your soul knows. And now I was going to put it out there for everyone to have an opinion on, or critique...do you know how terrifying that is? It did not come easily for me, allowing others inside my place of refuge.
My daughter was surprised when she read it, it was good. I don't think it's what she expected because your mom is your mom, not a writer or anything else...just your mom. I did send this out to publishers, and it was picked up by a group in Indy, that was later indited for fraud before my book made it onto a shelf. My friends that is a story for another day, and I do promise to share it with you. I was in good company though, this guy even had Mitch Daniels wife, governor of Indiana, in his office for her children's book. My life was experiencing some major changes during this time so I put the book on the shelf for a bit, but it's now two years later and it's time to start pitching it again. I have the other two books started and I like where they are going. It's time to get back on this journey I began and see where my road goes.
So how does this relate to my initial opening sentence, in this blog? Books have souls, I know because I wrote one...not just my soul, but so many others, and a soul of it's own. The physicality of a book allows us to 'be' with it, curl up in our favorite space, dog-ear our favorite page, hi-lite a special sentence...press a flower between it's pages, hide a note within, personalize it with an inscription. We add 'us', our soul, as it's reader to it's pages. We can't do that with an e-reader, it's just not the same. But e-readers have their place in this world, and I do like them...increasing the font size, and light, something you may not appreciate until you are over the age of 40!!
But one of the greatest joys in buying old books is what you sometimes find tucked between the pages. These books, the books that contain secrets from it's previous owners, have a story within a story. I've found receipts from restaurants, dry cleaning receipts, hotel check-out slips, pressed flowers, letters, notes, and beautiful inscriptions. The inscriptions are somewhat sad because at some point this book was chosen specifically for another person, great thought was given to this gift, and to the words left behind. It links you to this other person, this other being that read the very words you are about to read. You wonder who they were, what their story was, and what happened to them...did these words make a significant difference in their life, or did they ever even open it.
My suggestion is this...take an afternoon to peruse a used book store, or a Goodwill (they have great used books). Think about the lives that have touched the pages you now touch, from the writer to each and every reader. We are all so much more than we believe we are...fear keeps us from really exploring who it is we are to become! I will leave you with a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald, "You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say."