I went to the bookstore last night. My kids had some time before their big camp-out so we went to the huge mall Barnes & Nobles. I almost never go to the mall with my kids by myself, but I thought the bookstore would be okay. A safe place.
It’s been a while since I’ve been in a big bookstore like that. I shop local and my indie isn’t that huge. If I want to make the longer drive, I go to Anderson’s which is a pretty big and absolutely wonderful indie bookstore.
But last night I went to the Barnes & Noble and as I walked through the aisles, I grew increasingly sad. Not because the selection wasn’t massive (it really is a HUGE selection of YA novels), but because for all the excitement I felt seeing friends’ books on the shelves, I couldn’t help but notice the books that weren’t there.
Yes, my book wasn’t there, which I always prepare myself for so I don’t experience disappointment, but neither were: CarrieDahliaAndrewTedNovaMollyKathleenKatieJoleneSharonBrandyCourtneyStephKateJustinaShannonAmyAllisonTrishEricaetc’s. Do you see? You start making friends with writers. You start reaching out and connecting and then when you go to the bookstore, you become a little sad.
I love my writing life. I love my friends. I love so much of what publishing has brought me, but I miss the magic of going to a bookstore and just discovering books. And not fretting over what is and isn’t being shelved. This worry is an unexpected fallout of publishing. Sort of like when you get on a church committee and realize it’s not all spiritual and wonderful, now you see the politics behind things and there’s just no going back.
So instead, I didn’t buy any books for myself and walked behind my children as they experienced the bookstore. And that was a little wonderful too. Seeing them get excited about the latest Big Nate or the second book in Erin Bowman’s Taken series or that there’s a guide to Plants vs. Zombies (believe me, I rolled my eyes at the last one too and had to be very Zen about reading is reading is reading).
I love the magic of new readers. I may never have my pre-publishing bookstore gaze again, but at least I get to witness that in my kids still. And that's okay. It's enough.