Thursday, March 17, 2016

My Place on the Shelf

There is a philosophy that suggests if you put your desires out into the universe that those desires will come true. And while I'm often found rolling my eyes at my mother's similar “Think Positive” theory, I believe there must be some amount of truth in it. Not that I believe one can just imagine oneself rich and famous and it will miraculously happen. Success takes work. But the idea of visualization is something I can grab hold of, something I can easily implement in my daily life. Which sounds a bit like my dad’s way of giving driving instructions. "Picture it. Are you picturing it?”

My husband often asks me why I write. Is it because I hope to become rich and quit my day job? No, I am not delusional. I realize that most published writers require an additional income, and that very few are able to survive on the money they make from writing. Do I desire fame? No, again, this is the exception, not the rule. So what is it? (I mean, besides the aching need to get the voices in my head to stop telling me stories.)

I write because someday I hope to be able to walk into a bookstore, head to the YA section, search all the way to the near end of the alphabet, and find my book. A book. With my name on the cover and words that came from my brain spilling off of every page. Because when I tell people I’m a writer and they ask if they can read my book, I want to be able to direct them to the nearest online or brick and mortar retailer where they can buy a copy to read. Sometimes I find myself standing in a bookstore and picturing my book on the shelf. Is this the behavior of a crazy person, or someone employing the philosophy of visualization?

Last night I went out with three writer friends, all amazing women, all at different parts of their journey. The evening was filled with great conversation, not just about writing but about children, pets, birthday parties, and life in general. I felt so understood. And when I mentioned picturing my book on the shelf, they all shook their heads in agreement. And so we decided to go through the store and take a photograph of where exactly our book would live.

Shelf placement is a big deal. When readers are browsing a bookstore, what will make them grab yours? Maybe they were looking for a popular author and you happen to be close by. Maybe your books are situated near another writer of similar works. Like R.L. Stine? Try this! My friend whose first book debuts in May will be in between Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling, two writers who most decidedly do not need day jobs. A girl I met for the first time last night has two books on the way and will be sharing the shelf with Tolstoy. My book, when it enters the world outside of my laptop, will be down low, sure, but close to Ned Vizzini (RIP) and Markus Zusak, best selling authors who weren't afraid to take risks with their work. I’ll take it.

After we took the photos, we talked about starting a Twitter hashtag, and my immediate fear was that people would think it was pretentious. I mean, I’m pointing at a gap in the shelf as if to say, yep, my book will live here someday.

But it’s not pretentious. It’s optimistic. It’s the power of visualization. It’s about having a dream, pouring your blood, sweat, and tears (and a whole lot of hummus) into that dream, and one day being able to stand back and admire your accomplishment.

And for me, it’s about having a place on the shelf. Not just for my book, but for me. The writing community is a warm supportive place most days. But there are days when I feel like I don’t fit in, when I doubt that I’ll ever be part of the exclusive club of published authors, when I convince myself that the whole idea is a crock of garbage and I should just give up entirely.

Then I have nights like last night. Where my thoughts and ideas are valued, where I feel connected to other writers and encouraged to continue on this path. Where I feel nestled in between other stories, stories that prop me up when I start to falter.

So, without further ado, #ThisIsMyBookSpot:

Picture it. Are you picturing it?


Dee Romito said...

I love this! And yes, I can picture your book in that spot. :)

Sandi said...


John Freiberger IV said...

Great blog! Visualizing helps you get from Point A to Point B. I do it with running, guitar playing, and my grad work. It helps you see the hard work required and helps you plan accordingly. Your book will be there!! :-)

The Davis Girl said...

LOVE that I was there. I'm psyched for you! AWESOME post!