Tuesday, October 19, 2010

selling books

Lately, I dream all night about family and wake up sad.

On Sunday, we hauled eight heavy [heavy!] shopping bags full of books down to the car and out to Powell's Industrial to sell. I've sold books to Powell's once before, but not my own. Wait, that sounds like I'm a burglar. I did it for a friend. Anyway, this time, three bags were mine and five were Stephen's. Pulled during all that work we did cleaning out the apartment to get rid of a bookcase and fit the new easel in the studio. Both of us had books we were long finished with and wanted to lighten the load. Lots of mine were children's picture books, which are much thinner, and Stephen had big, thick history volumes, so I figured I must have close to the same book count.

After the selling, we got back in the car and headed off for errands. My experience had left me depressed. Pretty heavy [heavy!] weight hanging just under my ribcage as we drove away. Stephen's experience left him feeling good. Almost giddy. Said he felt free. I already couldn't remember most of the books I'd just jettisoned from my life, but I missed them anyway.

Granted, Stephen's books were mostly going to end up right back on his own shelves, at least the shelves he manages at Powell's. Maybe some will go to other locations, but in the coming weeks [days?] he's going to be going through a cart and see old friends come through. He'll be able to open a book and know that that page is where he used to have a yellow sticky note to mark a favorite image. And my books? Most were piled on the counter to be left in the recycling bin, to go off somewhere, through some donation process. Rejected.

Recently I was talking to a writer friend about the fact that once something's published, it's out there to haunt the writer forever. Any part you don't like, wish you'd said differently... is out there in the world. And I said, "I suppose for the most part, though, what's out there fades into some bit of ghost in, really, not all that long of time. Something that exists - but who really looks at it except someone who owns and loves it."

I thought about this as I drove away from my rejected books. And part of that weight under my ribcage - I was sad for those books. Those ghost books, now faded into the world, no longer honored by my shelves.


  1. Ah, jeez. You said something along these lines in the car the other day, when we left. And I got the point, I understood. But now, when you write it all down - and so beautifully - I feel ho-o-orrible!

  2. That was just a beautiful ode to books!!
    Just wonderfully written I loved it!

  3. That was just lovely!! Beautifully said and I can feel your pain.....but I loved the way you spoke of Stephen running into his"old friends"....:D

  4. Thanks! And you know what? Tuesday already, a cart came down to the Purple Room, and as we were saying goodbye, Stephen showed me that some of those old friends had already arrived.

  5. I really admire your being able to articulate your feelings (and I totally relate)
    I have to let my thoughts stew awhile, then wrench them out and down on paper, then, to really help, I write a poem...

  6. I love the idea of writing a poem, Shirley! I think that's sort of what I'm doing here. Putting it down in words takes away some of the sting.