Friday, August 21, 2009

so many books...

So I bought a bunch of books, and it ended up depressing me. How does that work? Well, unlike the adult fiction at the sale, which are mostly donations, a lot of the YA books there were books that have been withdrawn from the library--maybe because the library has extra copies, maybe because they didn't circulate, maybe because they're old...for whatever reason, looking at all those discarded books made me sad. (Even though it means the library is replacing them with new books!)

(I searched and searched my brain just now for the word "discarded", and it simply wasn't there. Eventually I had to ask David, who promptly supplied the word and then said, "How's that for a son of a librarian?" /random aside)

So anyway, back to my woeful depression.

There are a lot of books in the two big grocery bags I came home with. A lot of books that I haven't ever heard of. Books that, quite honestly, don't look very good. And that could be depressing from a *whine whine* "But how come my books aren't published when there are so many dumb ones that get published?" *whine* kind of way, but I have been paying close attention to publishing for long enough to understand that those comparisons are pretty meaningless, really.

Instead, I'm depressed to see so many books that are so...forgettable. They have been discarded. They were published (hurray! the big pie in the sky goal!), they made it to the library (and maybe even the bookstore!), but for whatever reason, teens didn't read them.* They were not big hits. I have not heard of them. I haven't heard of their authors--those people who slaved away just as I have slaved away over an idea so nebulous and maddening, over characters and dialogue and conflict and query letters and revisions and marketing. Only to have their book, still shiny and new, tossed into a huge bag by a middle school English teacher who looks at it, raises her eyebrows dubiously, and says, "Well, you never know. Someone might like this one."

In a way, it makes me grateful that my first novel did not sell, since at the time I finished it I knew only enough to be mildly dangerous. In the last three years or so, I've learned SO MUCH about every part of the writing process, including the part that comes after the book sale, as more and more of my writing friends have books published before my very eyes!

(Check out Bethany Griffin's Handcuffs, Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia, Hannah Moskowitz's Break, and Suzanne Young's The Naughty List, by the way!)

Obviously I'm still terribly ignorant, but I'm learning more and more every day.

I'm rambling rather idiotically, but I guess what I'm feeling is a combination of my usual Barnes and Noble Syndrome: "Oh my god look, there are a lot of books in this world. How is there even room for one more? Why would anyone possibly need mine?" and the sadness of seeing so many books discarded and unwanted, left languishing for the three dollars a bag crowd. "I used to be somebody's baby, but now no one will even pay fifty cents for me," they whisper. Even if they are bad books, I feel sorry for them. But I'm a weirdo, I know.

I'll get over it. I'll keep writing. I'll keep hoping. And I'll keep trying to learn more about how to keep my own babies out of that discard pile, should they ever get to the point of being books outside of my own imagination!

Speaking of babies. Enough of this writing chatter. This morning I was getting ready to go to the library, and the kids were fighting about something or other. I asked them to stop, and Jabber replied with his usual anger word, a fiercely hissed, "STINKIN'!"

Monkey looked shocked (as though he has never yelled the same thing at me). "Mama's not stinkin'!" he said, patting my face with his sweet little hands. "Mama is Beeeeyooootiful!" Hard to feel too depressed for too long with that kind of lovin' in the house.

*I do realize that books are discarded for a variety of reasons, not always because they're miserable failures. I've found some really spectacular and successful books in the discard pile. But the general feeling I got from the books I picked up today was a sort of air of dejection--books that never really found their following. It may be that the authors went on to be perfectly successful; after all, there are a million brilliant authors I've never heard of. It's also highly possible that I just happened to pick up a particularly dreadful pile of books.


Suzanne Casamento said...

Even if it was a dreadful pile of books, I still feel sorry for them too. I totally get what you mean.

Like imagine if your book was in the pile? You'd probably feel awful. I know I would.

Thanks for visiting QOTD!

elissa said...

Hi! welcome to my blog!

I know, it feels pretty awful to think about it no matter if they're good books or dreadful. And I'm pretty sure I'd rather my books remained unpubbed than pubbed and forgotten entirely like that. so sad.

Lisa said...

Oh my gosh! You've nailed it. I walk around thinking there are already too many books. Too much to read and how will anyone ever bother with my silly story?

And then what? A book and movie that have some of the same kind of story are big RIGHT NOW and I get all fretty because NOW I worry that I've missed the boat and my story will be rejected as a style-copy of this BIG book/movie even though I've been writing it in my head for years!

I have a basket of books that I got at this summer's Friends of Library sale. One I've decided not to read because I think the subject matter is too hard for me right now (dead kids really get to me) and the rest are a mish mash of the silly, the sublime, the classics, large print and, of course, British people offing each other.

I want to read what you're writing!

And oh for the days when there were little kids in the house to put their soft little hands on my cheeks and look right into my face.