Last week was a strange one, but one that is worth sharing, if only because it was so unexpectedly eventful.
Whilst looking through the bookshelves of a charity shop for something new to read, I found one of my own books on the shelf. The sight threw me completely, as various emotions vied for control of my brain.
"Look!" cried Anger. "Someone has thrown your book out like it was nothing!"
"No, that's not it," said Lookonthebrightside, "someone just wanted others to read it."
"But I keep the books I enjoy!" I said.
"Yes, but some other people don't.”
"Or maybe they didn't enjoy it," said Morose from his perch in the corner (he likes to hide in the shadows).
"That's true," said Anger, jabbing a finger towards his constant companion. "They hated it and they didn't tell you! They could have at least told you."
"Look guys..." I started.
"I fancy a packet of crisps," said Hunger.
"Simmer down," I said, pushing him back. "Guys, this is all a bit much for the moment. Let’s just sit down and have a coffee."
"Buy the book," said Anger.
"Buy it. Buy it now. BUY THE SHAME."
So I bought it, along with Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K Dick. It was a 3 for 2 offer. My book was the free one.
So I let the experience stew away in my mind for a while. My main cause of confusion was trying to work out just why I felt hurt. Eventually I
realised that it was because I
still looked at my books as something personal, something just for me, despite
the fact that the Binary Man has been out for almost three years. Selling e-books
is a very abstract thing. It's just numbers on a screen, which then becomes a
trickle of money into my PC games budget. To actually see one of my
books in paperback the first time was a childhood dream come true, and it took
three years of writing to come to fruition (the first one is always the
toughest, so I’ve been told). Physical books mean the world to me.
The reason I was feeling hurt was because they didn’t see my book as a strange dream-reality combo item of mystical power.
Well, of course they bloody didn’t! It’s a book.
“Wait, there’s more,” said Anger. “What about the fact that they didn’t tell you what they didn’t like about the book?”
Well, this I admit is something I really crave. I am desperate to improve with everything I write, with every word if possible. Criticism of my work is of vital importance to me. Surely someone who disliked my book enough to chuck it would be able to give me something to work with?
“Whoa there,” said Guilt. “What they did do was they BOUGHT it. They paid some of their own money to give your book a read. And now you’re listening to Anger! That’s no way to pay them back. And what if they liked it, but are the sort of person who is able to get rid of books, instead of storing them for decades in the loft? And if they didn’t like it, is that a crime? They bought it. It was theirs to do with as they wished. There are far worse things they could have done with it...”
I bit my lip.
“You git,” said Guilt.
“I know…” I said, shaking my balding head.
Whether they read it or not, liked it or not, it didn’t matter. My books aren’t just mine
any more. That one belonged to
someone else, someone who believed enough in the blurb to give it a shot.
Whoever you are, I salute you.
I’m keeping the