Monday, 20 May 2013

Bookselling

It's been some time since I have posted. For one, life has that way of being busy and distracting that makes it difficult to be consistent in the realm of updating a blog unless one is very committed to it. For another, there was that existential crisis to be had: Does one exist to write, and if so, does one write on a blog? Moreover, what does one write on a blog?

For a while there, I was writing fairly consistently, at least one piece of writing, however short or long, per day. Some days there were multiple bits; sometimes, full works. Having a writer's group helped, although we focused only on writing for performance (film, tv, theatre—the latter being a strength of mine, but I do like to write a variety). Having no consistent (paid) work did not help. So I found a job working at a bookstore for minimum wage; certainly not my proudest moment, but pride was never my strongest suit.

Working at a bookstore ended up being a great experience. (I speak in past tense because I recently stopped working at a bookstore in order to pursue other opportunities to which I shall get.) Learning how a bookstore works was fascinating, but the real prize was in the people. If you want a great place to do character research (read: people-watching), bookstores are the best. There are the regular customers, who range from well-read types who dive into books like swimmers into a surf to folks who must frequent the local bookstore to appear smarter than they are, or because they have a strange infatuation with the cupcakes at the cafĂ©. There are tutors who meet their charges after-school to go over math and geography. There are students cramming for every exam all the time. There are the ones who hang out in the newsstand section because they're too cheap to get a subscription (or to buy magazines at all, apparently). Then, the non-regulars, who come in near holidays and for birthdays because their cousins love books even though they don't understand why since movies are way better anyway and books have all those sentences and paragraphs in them and never enough pictures and who would want to buy a book anyway. The non-regulars are always incensed that the bookstore doesn't have every book ever published on its shelves, and they can't order that book their aunt wants because it will take at least three days to arrive and her birthday is in two hours. Every person who walks into a bookstore is a character, no question about it. Even the staff is full of characters:  students, writers who haven't made it yet, teachers waiting for their dream job, and so on. It is a wealth of inspiration if that is what you seek.

I stopped working at the bookstore because, shortly after becoming a bookseller, I found work at a local school teaching theatre, and then a few months later became the Director of Music Ministries at Faith Presbyterian Church of Valley Village. (Nice title, right?) Doing all that and working a minimum-wage job didn't seem copacetic. So I had to leave the bookstore. But, seeing as I live nearby, I've threatened my former co-workers with becoming that favorite but most distressing kind of customer: a regular with inside knowledge.

Say, this was a good start for getting back into the writing thing, right?