Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book Buying with a Writer

"What do you want to do today?" Dad asks me every morning (or afternoon) when I get up. Everyday all week the answer has been the same,
"You've already done that; it's noon-thirty. What else do you want to do today?"
"That's what you did yesterday."

He's bored and therefore is objective is to annoy the rest of us, but he's right. As I look at my yesterday, my day before yesterday, my everyday since Christmas I realize I haven't done much. I read The Five Love Languages: Singles Edition and that's about it. I've read some blogs, written some blogs, played a few million games of Bejeweled Blitz, whooped butt in Bananagrams, scrapbooked a bit, and that's really about it. I'm not ok with that. I decided I have this time, so I should work on the story. Well, since I have this time the characters don't want to play with me. I've also found when I'm blogging regularly I obtain my "writing fix" without even opening a Word doc. That's a problem.

Umpteen years of writer's block has taught me to read when I want to write. Problem: there's nothing here I want to read. Sure, just within arm's reach I can grab four different books with bookmarks less than 100 pages in and almost a million more I've never read. Yet none of them seem appealing at the moment. I need to do something with my days, and I need to read more.

"One of these days I should go to Barnes and Noble," I said aloud to myself. Then I decided: why wait? Go right now. Instead of waiting for a car, I hopped in our minivan and tooled down the road. I don't like driving the van but nothing gets between a girl and her books!

As I was on my way out the door Dad asked where I was going. He's bored, and I was the only one home. When I told him he asked for how long. My response didn't please him. "Until I'm done kinking my neck to read book title sideways."
"You're just going to walk up and down the aisles until you find something you want to read?"
"Then I'm definitely not going!"
Good because you weren't invited. Going to B&N alone is something I love. It started freshman year of college when I didn't have a car on campus. I always went shopping with people. Yes, Wal-mart by yourself can be lame, but it's also refreshing to wander the aisles alone and at your leisure. I'm not allowed to go to Wal-mart when I'm home, so I always try to make at least one trip to Barnes and Noble by myself.

"I have my phone but don't call me. I'll be home when I'm done," I announce as I depart.
"What if we need the car?" It's a legitimate concern because we have four and a half drivers and three cars.
"If Dad can hog a car sitting in the parking structure at work untouched all day five days a week I can hog one for a few hours."
No, you can't even go to the mall while I'm at the bookstore because when you're done I have to be done. I want the freedom to be on my own time.

Call me rude but if I run in to people I know while at B&N, our conversations are exceptionally brief. I'm on a mission and I cannot be distracted. However, sometimes I have to pause to people watch.
"Can you just point me to my section?" an annoyed father asked his wife. Their grade school daughter stood in between them.
"This is the adult section," the girl says waving her hands. "All of these books are for adults."
I didn't hear how his wife responded, but he apparently was not satisfied.
"You mean I have to walk around and read every sign to find what I'm looking for?"
Yes, sir. That is exactly what I do.

I wander through the bookstore searching for something to read. For an English major, I'm not very well-read, so I investigate the classics. Nope. No Dickens of Shakespeare for Katie, please. I peruse the 1/2 off books. Since I don't know what I want how marvelous would it be to find it to be on sale? No luck. I sneak to the back corner where my B&N keeps the Christian books. I already have all of those Max Lucado books. They're out of Francine Rivers, and I don't love Karen Kinsbury's grammar.

Without fail I always find my hands on a writing book. Today I laughed at myself when I picked up the first one and quickly put it back. Not even five minutes later I picked up a second one. Realized I'd flipped them both open at random and they both fell open to sections dealing with rejection. That's not something I handle well, so I figured it was a message from God and am now the owner of A Novel Idea. :-)

After this it's the purposeless roaming. I think about books I've heard other people are reading. I recognize authors' names and check out their other books. I remember I've had professors encourage me to read more non-fiction, so I try to come home with at least one non-fiction book (usually this goal fails miserably). Really, though, I'm looking for a novel, and my B&N doesn't have a creative nonfiction section. I want something good to get lost in during these cold winter days as I fight cabin fever.

After that, I do exactly what every child is told never to do: I judge books by their covers. If I like the cover (or title or whatever) I pick up the book and read the back. If there's no synopsis on the back of the jacket I usually put it back down. If the synopsis sounds interesting, I fan the book open. Does it look like a book I could read? Laugh if you want but I almost stopped reading The Five Love Languages because the page number was really close to the edge of the page and I was afraid it was going to get cut off. I also scan for words; books littered with swears will not be enjoyed. For me, sex doesn't sell. No dark, no dirty.

My last stop before hitting the check-out counter is the investigate the teenage section. I didn't discover this section until I was a little too big. I always figured the teen section was for... well... teenagers. Not sheltered twelve or thirteen year old me. I read Harry Potter and Princess Diaries throughout most of my teenage years (this could explain why I'm not very well-read). Oh, well.

Few people enjoy going to bookstores with writers. Thanks for going there with me today (but not literally because I really just want to be there alone).

<>< Katie

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