On the outside of my hometown my Mama (pronounced Ma-muh) would take me to a used bookstore whenever I would spend the night with her and my great grandmother. It was our “me time”. We both had a love of books and walking into this super Walmart sized used bookstore was my refuge; a place for me to sit on the floor and get lost in the books that someone no longer wanted or needed. I would use my babysitting money to buy up used books by the quarters and dimes and when I had loved and read them till I had them committed to memory we would return to the store, ready to trade in our books for more, often by the bagful.
This was the one thing I had in common with my Mama. Libraries and bookstores were where we felt at home. The smell of books, paper and the stories that waited begged us to get lost inside of them. She would always ask if I had found anything good and I would find myself reading the beginning pages of book that I thought to be promising to her. There was never a rush to find the perfect book or story to fall in love with. She nurtured that spark in me to read and to read often.
It’s been close to 20 years since my Mama has been gone and probably almost that long since I’ve walked into a used bookstore. It wasn’t until last year that I remembered why I loved used bookstores so much or why they are a blessing for any writer and book lover.
In 2010, I attended Blissdom for the first time and while I was there, I made it a point to attend the Writer Workshops. I wanted to surround myself with women who dreamed in words like I did and I knew that even if I felt completely inadequate and naïve to the creativity of the women in the room, that something lovely would come of it.
The discussions ranged from getting over writing blocks to topics we loved to write about, to writing tools and moving beyond our comfort zones when we wrote. I furiously took down notes, writer’s blog sites, names and ideas. I wrote down books that they loved and recommended. One in particular, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, stood out to me. I hadn’t heard of the book or the author and felt my greenness as a writer showing through but I underlined and bolded the title on my notepad adding “TO BUY” in large dark caps. When Blissdom was over, I put my notepad aside and went back to living.
My love and curiosity for what can be uncovered in a used bookstore was rekindled when I found The Artist’s Way sitting upon the top shelf, dusty and alone in the Inspiration section. Someone did not love this book enough. Its pages and binding were secure. No folds or creases on the pages or underlines to tell the next reader, “This is important”. It saddened me but excited me all the same because what was someone’s loss would surely be my benefit.
to be continued…