Hating Those New Books On the Bookstore Shelf

I don’t know about anyone else, but the further along I get in the writing of this “will-it-ever-end?!?” novel, the harder and harder it is to do one of the things I used to love: Go to the bookstore.

Every new book–and there are thousands printed every year–is like one more star in the literary universe. How do you pick which star to look at?

With the ending of my novel shimmering, always on the horizon, never getting noticeably closer, the bookstore has become a place I dread going into. Every time I’m there, there is another new mountain of freshly printed books. Dozens of new books. Hundreds of new books.

Not only are none of these books mine, they are an overwhelming reminder that even once my book is done, even if I find a publisher excited to print it, even if you stumble upon my ugly mug grinning at you from the dust jacket of a hard-cover tome which with the thickness–at this rate–of the New York phone book, even THEN my little project will be but one, haze-dimmed star in the literary universe.

How does one find the determination to spend years and years working on something like this, knowing the eventual fate–based only on the sheer number of books compared to the number of people who, you know, still read–of the project is likely to be obscurity?

I don’t know the answer to that. I do know this: after I stumble into the bookstore, I stagger back out with that overwhelming feeling of melancholy.

Does the world need another book? Does it need MY book? Some authors seem to have that conviction, that fire. They say in interviews they knew their voice was needed. They knew their story would find a readership.  I wonder if they speak bravely in public, but in private have the same fear I do?


4 thoughts on “Hating Those New Books On the Bookstore Shelf

  1. Hmmm. I don’t care if the world needs my book. It’s going to get it anyway. The better question is, will the world benefit from it? Will it bring joy, entertainment, thought, curiosity, understanding, camaraderie, laughter, insight, or anything else to those who read it? Of course it will – you do plan on letting your spouse read it, right? 😉

    My two cents. Worry less, write more. Worry is just a way to let yourself procrastinate your writing in the guise of thinking. Forget that I said procrastination can be a good thing too. 🙂

    • Glad to see you don’t share the same melancholy of concern about so much effort going into something that may or may not ever even be noticed. 😉
      It is a sort of hurdle to get over, at least for me. At some point, yes, I want to just say, “This book is done, move on,” even if no one else ever reads it. There is that part of me that knows I’m writing as much for me as for anyone else. But, at least for me, this is my legacy. My words are the only things that MIGHT outlive me, and sometimes, it feels as if I’m shouting into a void. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that’s my perspective when I stand in front of the next mountain of new books and the next…

      • Well, you are only shouting into a void if I (and others who read your stuff, including your wife) are figments of your imagination. I just pinched myself. I’m not.

        I do want my stuff to be published. Badly. But, I recognize that what is good and what is popular are not the same. So, I do not strive for popularity (but if it happens, I’m not going to scoff at it).

        Legacy, that’s my kids. If you want a legacy (without kids), try mentoring somebody or volunteering. Make your legacy be your kindness to others, a helping hand, or spirit of goodwill. Sure, you’re words are easier to pin down, but I bed the ripple effect of good vibes lasts longer.

        But keep going with the book, because you deserve to have it done.

  2. I’m 100% convinced that they all have the same fears we do. I know a published author who has 2 successful books to her name and is about to publish the 3rd. She still worries whether anyone will want to read it 😦

    It’s definitely a hard one honey. I think that there will NEVER be too many books, and ALWAYS a reader waiting to discover you. Let’s face it, there’s a huge amount of luck involved, unfortunately 😦


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