Which theme music plays in your brain when you come across a really amazing bookstore?
Mine varies, but right now it sounds like the opening to Soundgarden's Jesus Christ Pose. Or the second-half of Ty Segall and Cory Hanson's She's a Beam. It's frantic, discordant excitement with a groove. Is yours Messiah's Hallelujah?
Let's boil it down: just what is that magical transformation that takes place when writers step foot into bookstores?
First, for the unpublished or locally published among us, bookstores give us a glimpse into our futures. We're at home among our products, these hard and softbound gems that dazzle on tables. These sirens that call to us with their glossy faces and stiff spines. And us, paper fiends, running our fingers through their pages as they willingly give themselves over to us... ahem, yes. Books. We love them. We want to see ours on those shiny shelves among their peers.
Second, being in the bookstore means we're destined to enjoy the next "XX" minutes of our lives. Writers are generally readers, and walking into bookstore places us in the center of the glory. It's the home of the words, and if we're in, chances are we've designated some browsing time. It's downtime, peace time, relaxing time. Time to shut out the stress, plug in the headphones, and search everything from acroyoga to Zeno's paradoxes.
Next, each time we walk through the doors of greatness, we hold out hope that we're going to stumble across TBTWER (The Best Thing We'll Ever Read). It's going to propel us to the top in many ways: We'll be lauded a hero among our writer friends for discovering said BT (Best Thing). Finding BT will inspire us to dust off that old Smith-Corona and finally finish our Pulitzer contender. Simply stacking BT on our nightstand as magical book dust accumulates will osmose us with infinite ideas for the ages.
Finally, when all browsing fails, the section on 'how to write' never does. Nothing is going to help us finish our work-in-progress more than another book on how to write. No, for real this time.
Oh, and let us not forget. Bookstores usually have coffee.
Photos in order they appear (L to R, top to bottom): Bedlam Book Cafe, Worcester, MA; Strand Book Store, NYC, NY; Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA; PRESS Coffee, San Antonio, TX; The Book Barn, Niantic, CT; Landmark Booksellers, Franklin, TN; Commonwealth Books, Boston, MA