On Heirlooms and Old Stories
I wonder if I will ever become a published author.
It is a common thought, festering at the back of my mind at every waking hour, that my work will never see the light of day. It will only be kept among the select few who have read through the initial drafts, who have whispered to one another over this scene or that character. It doesn’t take just one person to write a book. It takes many. Many individuals put in time and research and effort, working in tandem to goad the author — me — toward the final product, that quaint little paperback that I can pull from the shelf at my local bookstore.
I love the fact that books change hands. I never hear about a good book just from picking it from the shelves. Sometimes in an old, dusty library I may come across an interesting series. Though I may be drawn by the artwork on the cover or spine, I rely on word of mouth instead. I remember Harry Potter advertisements, before the series became popular. The promotional blitzes confused me. “Advertise for books? People do that?”
The best — and worst — books I’d ever read were through recommendations. (I read the bad books anyway, because I’m curious.)
My first big series was Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings”, a gift from my grandmother. She also gave me her first edition copy of “The Hobbit”. It was an unassuming book: the cover was blue thread across cardboard as many older books were bound, with little, neat gold lettering across the front. I treasured that book like it was my baby; read and re-read it a good few times, carried it with me and pored over its pages between classes in middle school. It was something precious, because it had been precious to my grandmother and she had wanted to pass the joy that she got from that book to me in turn.
Later that year, someone stole the book from my backpack while I bought a cafeteria lunch.
I was angry, frantic; asking anyone if they’d seen a blue book in any of my classes, hoping that I’d lost it and simply forgotten, that it would turn up in the middle-school lost-and-found in a day or two, but it never did. Mourning the loss of my book, I pored over the remaining Lord of the Rings stories, and eventually moved on to the Silmarillion and other books by Tolkien. With time, my collection of fantasy novels grew, but I always kept a well-thumbed copy of one of Tolkien’s works on my desk to pick through.
For years, I didn’t touch “The Hobbit.” I couldn’t replace the book. It wouldn’t have as much meaning to me, as the one that my grandmother had lovingly passed on. I had lost something important, and I would never get it back.
However, some weeks ago I ghosted the shelves of Barnes and Noble and I saw it. “The Hobbit,” on sale for a neat round-off of $9.99. For a moment I recalled that little blue book, and how my grandmother had stopped at the bottom of her stair and said “Wait here,” only to return moments later, lovingly holding the book as she told me, “This was mine, and now I want it to be yours.”
I bought the book and then found a place to sit down and read. It would never be the same, but the memories remained.
I want that to happen to someone else someday; to care for what I write so much that they will pass it on to their child or grandchild and say “I held this book dear; I hope you give this story as much love in your life as I have in mine.”
Originally posted 2012-03-15 23:30:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter