A Day in the Life


Me in my starry-eyed youth writing (actually, I was drawing turbots, but for the sake of this post, let’s pretend I was writing). (Photo by Monica Waterston)

I think most people know that I have a master’s degree in English, but only the people who have known me the longest know that I pursued that degree because I had dreams of writing the next great American novel.  I haven’t given up on those dreams, really, though I’ve pursued other things in the meantime.  Nevertheless, even as I’ve been working away at another master’s in library and information science, getting a job, being a librarian, and all of that, I’ve still been working in my spare time on what I would like to be my debut novel (I have ideas/drafts for at least two others, but this is the one I’d want to start with).

I had the idea for this novel and started working on it years ago, and I’ve gone through so many drafts, but I feel like this might actually be the one.  I’m serious enough about it now that I feel like I might be ready to start looking for an agent.  Sometimes I even wonder if it might be possible for me to make me living as a writer.  Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love my job…but part of me still can’t stop thinking about how nice it would be to be able to make my living as a writer.

So I’ve decided to give it a test run.  Try it out to see what it would be like.  Tomorrow, I have the day off work for Cesar Chavez Day, but instead of sleeping in and lazing around watching movies or something, I’ve decided that I’m going to experience a day in the life of a writer.  Starting when I wake up tomorrow morning, I’m going to spend the day as I’d spend it if I were a full-time, professional, working writer.  For tomorrow, instead of thinking of writing as a hobby, I’m going to think of it as a job, and actually get down to the real business of it.

Writing this way – as a serious job, actually working on it for a full 8-hour day – is not something I’ve done since I finished my master’s thesis (a collection of really awful short stories – it was never my genre, but my adviser talked my out of writing a novel and I stupidly listened).  I don’t anticipate it will be all fun and games, but I’d like to give it a shot and see how it feels.  Maybe I’ll hate it and by noon I’ll be back on the couch watching movies. But hopefully, it will feel good, and it will be extra inspiration to finish the novel and seriously pursue publication so that I’ll have the time and resources to go on to write another one.  And another one after that.

So what about you, dear Internet people?  What’s your dream?  I think we all get so stuck in the goings-on of our everyday lives that would lose sight of the dreams that once mattered to us, but making those dreams a reality is probably not as hard as we might think, if we only work up the nerve to try.  So I challenge you to try it out.  Set aside a single day this month to live a day in the life of your dreams.  What would it be like?  And more importantly, what would it take to make it your life, not just one day, but every day?

“A gift in support of libraries, books, works, ideas.”

I woke up this morning to find a lovely little gem in my Facebook inbox.  My cousin, who shares my love of literature, sent me this fascinating link to a page on the mystery book sculptures of Edinburgh.  In March of this year, someone in the Scottish Poetry Library found this beautiful paper sculpture, made from books, and addressed to the library’s Twitter account, @byleaveswelive.

Photos courtesy of Chrisdonia, poster of the original article at Central Station.

They thought it was pretty cool, obviously, but little did they know that more of these incredible pieces would pop up at various libraries and book venues around Edinburgh over the course of the next several months.  Ten in all were left in various libraries, given “in support of libraries, books, works, ideas.”

Although some speculated as to who the mysterious gift-giver could be, the identity of this incredible artist remains unknown. A longer, typed, note accompanying one of the final pieces reveals that the artist is a woman, but that you won’t find her among the community of well-known book artists, as this was her first foray into art with books.  It’s hard to believe, because the pieces are incredible.  The attention to detail is astounding; the time it must have taken to craft these works must have been extensive.  Just look at these hand-crafted feathers from another piece left in the Scottish Poetry Library.

I love everything about this story.  The mystery artist, identity unknown.  The sculptures left behind in libraries, just waiting to be discovered – some were tucked in rather inconspicuous places and no one is sure how long they sat there before being discovered.  The beauty of the pieces themselves.  The homage the artist has paid to literature, particularly Scottish literature, and even more particularly the work of Ian Rankin.

But what I love most about this is that these items were left in libraries.  Working in a library, it’s easy to sometimes feel like people don’t really appreciate everything that we have on offer.  I’ve been doing a lot of outreach lately, and it’s surprising that so many of the students and faculty I’ve been talking to don’t even know where their library is!  Perhaps this is characteristic of medical libraries (though I suspect it’s true across the boards), but people often seem to think of the library today as a virtual space.  It’s true that technology has allowed the information to go with you practically wherever you go.  I recently wrote an article for the blog of the Medical Library Group of Southern California and Arizona about tools for accessing PubMed, the sort of go-to resource for biomedical literature, from mobile devices.  Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that people can get to information wherever and whenever they need it, but at the same time, I feel like people are missing out on a certain something if they never actually come into the library, meet their librarian, and actually put their hands on some books.

So for someone to leave these items as gifts for the library, sort of a thank you for the work of libraries, is quite nice.  I wish someone would do this for my library!  As long as it didn’t involve defacing rare books, of course. 🙂