I like to wander through bookstores. I’m fascinated by the titles on the spines that hold all those words together. And the artwork compels me to pick up these books and test the weight of their words with my hands, smell the ink on paper and wonder why no one has read MY book yet. This is when I realize, I haven’t actually written one. I take a step back and survey all the shelves lined with neat rows of books and ask myself, “If all these people can do it, why can’t I?”
Surprisingly, this doesn’t make me reach for my trusty iBook. Instead, it makes me head for the exit. I step out into the bright blue day on Lake Avenue, leaving behind the quiet hum and cool smell of air conditioning. As I walk home, I am mentally listing all the things I could possibly write about and quickly crossing off things I know nothing about.
Thing I won’t be writing about:
Italy on 5 bucks a day
Teach your dog to read
Pretty much any “osis”
Mating habits of migratory birds
RVing for fun or profit or both
Idiots guide to tax laws
Anything Car related
Let’s face it: Basic Math
As you can imagine, the list of things I can talk about becomes pretty short rather quickly. I pick up the pace trying to out-stride the coming fear. When fear does catch up, and it always does, it reminds me that writers spend all day writing by themselves. This fear does not scream or yell; it’s so much more subtle and easy to listen to. It doesn’t even question my competence. It merely asks, “Are you sure this is what you want?”
It’s taking a lot of trips to the bookstore and just as many quick walks home empty handed to figure this out. All I’ve got is my own story. All anyone has is their own experience, their own story. This is the point. How else would we learn except from each other? I’m relieved to know that someone else has the math story because my own is so totally different.
As I browse the Non fiction sections, I’ve noticed a few things. Writers are consistently sharing the “secrets” of success, wealth, happiness, beauty… Or a certain number of steps to (fill in the blank)… weight loss, enlightenment, perfect children… the list is long. The Christian, Religious, Spirituality sections are like all the others; full of uncovered secrets and newly discovered steps. In case you haven’t noticed, a printed book on the shelf at the bookstore with the word “Secret” in the title is technically no longer a secret. It’s written in ink on public display.
Just so you know, the book with my name on it will not contain secrets or steps. Just a simple story. A story that only I can tell.