So, the sun is out in the UK and that means that I end up frequenting the local shops, which usually means I end up scouring the bookshelves of the many charity shops we have around.
“But why?” you all shout. “You’re miles behind in your list of reading 52 books in one year. You shouldn’t be buying more books.”
“Alas,” I reply. “I collect books as a woman does shoes. It’s in my blood.”
Anyway, that’s not the point of this post – the point is I happened upon a certain book. It was called Worlds of Wonder by David Gerrold (the guy who wrote the infamous Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”). But, I’m not a big Star Trek fan, so that isn’t the point of this post either.
The real point is that this book is all about how to write Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories. As I thumbed the pages of the book in the shop, I drank in the familiar topics; A story is.. The Hero, Fantasy Worlds, Why write? And then it hit me..
This is the kind of book that many aspiring writers buy and read; it’s a guide on how to get the story in their heads out onto the paper / screen. Yet, it was here collecting dust in an old charity shop. Someone, somewhere had the same feelings out there that I do now – they wanted to build a world, fill it with characters, instil feelings and emotions into them, and then want to pull a reader in to experience all of that. So they got this book. It could have been a gift from a friend, or maybe they bought it themselves. Either way, they were making an effort to take their dreams to the next step.
Yet the book was now on a dusty shelf, discarded as we would offer up old clothing that no longer fit. I didn’t know who had owned the book (there were no
tribbles scribbles inside the front cover as is often the case with second-hand books) which meant any thoughts about the previous owner could go no further. But my feelings for that person continued.
I have similar books on my desk and to give them away would be to give up on my dream. The day I hand over all my books would be the day I’d given up and died inside. I wonder if that person had felt the same when they offered up their book for charity
Could they picture their characters?
Had they built a world for them to love, and live in?
Did they argue with them silently whilst walking the dog?
Or, could they never quite make the transition from the mind to the page…
Are those characters now forever lost, with dreams of their own that will never come true?
So, I find myself treating this book both as a sign and a warning. On the good side, I see it as another step on the ladder (albeit a gentle hands-up from an eternally unknown stranger) to realising my aspirations as a writer, whilst on the bad side it’s an omen to how many of us will end up fallen by the wayside with characters destined to be nothing more than dust collecting on a shelf in an old charity shop.