I don’t know about anyone else, but the further along I get in the writing of this “will-it-ever-end?!?” novel, the harder and harder it is to do one of the things I used to love: Go to the bookstore.

Every new book–and there are thousands printed every year–is like one more star in the literary universe. How do you pick which star to look at?

With the ending of my novel shimmering, always on the horizon, never getting noticeably closer, the bookstore has become a place I dread going into. Every time I’m there, there is another new mountain of freshly printed books. Dozens of new books. Hundreds of new books.

Not only are none of these books mine, they are an overwhelming reminder that even once my book is done, even if I find a publisher excited to print it, even if you stumble upon my ugly mug grinning at you from the dust jacket of a hard-cover tome which with the thickness–at this rate–of the New York phone book, even THEN my little project will be but one, haze-dimmed star in the literary universe.

How does one find the determination to spend years and years working on something like this, knowing the eventual fate–based only on the sheer number of books compared to the number of people who, you know, still read–of the project is likely to be obscurity?

I don’t know the answer to that. I do know this: after I stumble into the bookstore, I stagger back out with that overwhelming feeling of melancholy.

Does the world need another book? Does it need MY book? Some authors seem to have that conviction, that fire. They say in interviews they knew their voice was needed. They knew their story would find a readership.  I wonder if they speak bravely in public, but in private have the same fear I do?

Hating Those New Books On the Bookstore Shelf
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