Bookstores: They’ve got my number. They know things about me, my shopping habits, that I have a Pavlovian response to a thirty-percent-off coupon. And one bookstore should get the idea that a ten-percent-off coupon can’t compare with the thirty. It doesn’t matter if I need a book in the classical sense (and who doesn’t need a book... ever); I will go if I’ve got that coupon. It reminds me of the “If you build it, they will come,” from Field of Dreams. If you send me a book coupon, I will buy. And I also must say that the Pavlov thing I’ve got going on is feisty enough to ignore winter storms, rain, wind... I’m as trusty as the postal service.
During a recent book store outing, I had a moment. I’ll even go as far as to call it an epiphany. But since I’m a writer, let me set a few more facets about the scene first... and a bit about my place on the writing road.
I’ve been in the querying stage for more than a year (one project with better results than the other). I’ve been fortunate to have partials and fulls of my story reach agents; some are still out. As others in this stage know, it is slow moving for most, with lots of need for patience and a sound mind (or in my case, a busily working on the next story... and the next... protocol in place to get me through the querying stage). The highs and lows of querying are challenging to say the least, but I do notice growth from the first full request (which turned me into a dithering mess) to now when a full of my story is out with one of my dream agents (still breathing, don’t check the email too obsessively, and feel centered about my place in this journey). Clear and present growth.
And for people who know me, the past year has been a time of change for me, change born from the previous year’s decisions that set me on a path to find my own journey in life, unburdened by limitations (my own or others). For all the ups and downs, forward movement has been ever present.
That brings us to the new lesson delivered by a friend. Conversations, both written and spoken, carry such amazing power to transform us, if only we are listening. Recently, I made a new friend, a gift by any measure, and from that new friendship has come conversations that delight as much as they amaze me. Moments when clarity presents a truth, a stepping stone for my journey, subtly spoken, but with the power of a flashing neon sign. Go this way.
It was out of a conversation that a quote was given to me, involving the subject of expectations. And from the quote, the unraveling of an inner thought process suddenly shown to be a detriment to me. Expectations. Something I always thought of as a positive revealed to be hollow glimmers tainting each day. If we expect one thing and are given another, let down is the logical conclusion. Expectations lead us to yearnings that only serve our imaginations while contaminating our realities. I realized in this light sharing of ideas that expectations have diminished my journey, always leading to disappointment and a kind of cage, self built.
In the weeks since the conversation, I’ve experienced more joy than ever before because I’m really living in today, not my fictional image of what the day should be. And I’m free in a way that I’ve never let myself be before, and that is a wonderful way to begin a new year. And it led directly to my bookstore epiphany.
I was perusing my beloved YA fantasy section, seeking out the new and communing with all the wonderful fiction written by my heroes, when a moment hit me. A beautiful moment when I realized that just being a writer is prize enough. I will continue to query, to give my stories a chance to dance in readers’ imaginations (what more could a writer dream of), but I know now that just to be a writer, to tell these stories, to have a mind full of imaginary worlds and characters that thrill me, is so tremendously amazing that I am both humbled and grateful.
To all the writers out there who share this spark, carry on and I can’t wait to see your books in my bookstore and play in the worlds that found a home in you.
Quote for the Day from William Shakespeare (not the quote mentioned above, but works very well)
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.”