A couple weeks ago, I was in Laramie, Wyoming, at the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers, learning about planets (!) and stars (!) and black holes (!) and the math (?##@???) astronomers use to measure how far away galaxies are from ours and being astounded by the infinite expanse of the universe (!!!)—and this knowledge will be used for a novel, so stay tuned for that. And I was on my way home. And I was in the Denver airport, rushing to buy something edible to eat on the plane ride because I hadn’t eaten breakfast and my flight had already started boarding, when I happened to see a bookstore near the gate. And inside that little airport bookstore I happened to see something that stopped me in my tracks.
My book. The paperback edition of Imaginary Girls. On display. IN A FREAKING AIRPORT.
That was a first.
Loudly I said, “Oh. My. God.” And startled a man in the aisle with me. And snapped a photo. And then bought some honey cashews and crackers and dashed off to catch my flight.
I never thought I’d see a book I wrote in an airport. And I don’t mean that’s the pinnacle of success to me, or some piece of the dream I never thought would come true. That wasn’t ever a part of my particular dream when I knew I wanted to grow up to be a writer.
I had a simple dream—and it comes direct from when I was a kid. All I wanted was to see my book in a library.
I lived for libraries when I was a kid. They’re a big reason I’m a writer today.
I know, somewhere on this blog where I can’t seem to find now, I revealed my shameful former habit whenever I’d go into a library, all through the years as I started writing my own fiction. I’d lurk by the Fiction shelves, starting mid-alphabet and sort of idly wandering down and down, the letters on the book spines lowering as I went. Sure, I’d be looking for books to check out and feed my reading habit, but I had an ulterior motive, too. One I had to do in secret, with no one looking. I’d reach the S shelves. I’d scan the books carefully until I came to it. My spot.
I so longed to be shelved somewhere in there one day.
I’d stand at my spot—and this shelf, in various libraries, could be on the very bottom of the stack, or in the indiscriminate middle, even at the end of a wall, near the fire exit. It varied. I’d stand wherever it was and I’d imagine it.
My spine, like a part of my body, wedged in there where I belonged.
(See how shameful this is! See? But I’m not done yet.)
Then I’d do it. I had to do it. I always did it.
I’d slip my finger in… and I’d make room for my future book. I’d leave the SU shelf with it waiting for me: a gap just wide enough for the novel I’d one day publish to fit inside.
(I’m blushing as I type this.)
I did this in every library I went to—in Woodstock, in Yellow Springs, in Boston, in Manhattan, various branches all across the city—for YEARS.
And yes, I did this in the adult Fiction section, never realizing my future gap would actually be on the YA shelves, but it doesn’t matter. It was just the idea of being in a library, the place where I fell in love with reading. That was my dream.
And can you believe it? I see my book in libraries all the time now. I don’t have to leave a gap to fill one unknown day in the future. I’ve filled it:
Seeing my book in a libary was my particular dream when I imagined one day becoming a published author. What’s yours?