I found my Nirvana again recently. My days off, as of late, have been few and far between. Moreover, the respite I often seek during those rare days off lays over a dozen miles from my house through heavy traffic, so it’s not always readily available. That led me to forget just how comforting and stimulating it can be when I get to it.
What am I talking about? My all-day visit to a bookstore, of course.
(There was supposed to be a picture here, but it didn't load right. Pretend something witty lay here)
During a business trip, I recently found myself with an afternoon to kill. As I drove through town, I came across a Barnes & Noble, and I knew I had to stop in. It had been so long, but my psyche suddenly found itself craving an addiction it had almost forgotten about.
As I got there and began browsing, a familiar sensation crept over me again. I looked through the titles and cover blurbs, and my mind started going into overdrive. Several books sounded fascinating, but I found myself saying, “What if instead of this background, xxx happens. That might lead to yyy, which could mean zzz is possible.” In other words, I started discovering new ideas amidst parts of other ones.
I don’t think I’m unique in using snippets from others to form new thoughts. My very first novel – the one I abandoned years ago – began as the combination of several ideas I gleaned from already completed works that I then morphed into my own concept. Basically, I would catch a snippet of something, and my mind would take it in a direction totally separate from what I was reading, but inspired enough to start the juices. It could be a picture, a phrase, or a concept, but reading so much creativity helped stir my imagination to rev up again.
How many others see something and find their minds spinning off in whole new directions? Your mind could be primed and it just takes the right kick to spin it off into originality. What catches my eye and stirs me goes off in a totally different direction from what my mind came up with, but it’s the image or thought that spurs new ideas. Bookstores in general simply get the creative juices flowing again, like the books therein are rocket fuel for our imaginations.
This is what Amazon lacks. While I love the convenience of the site, I can’t exactly browse randomly on Amazon the way I can at a brick and mortar bookstore. Sure, it can remember your preferences and help steer you, but there’s something about walking through and seeing random titles and book covers that makes everything seem possible.
How many of your own stories have spawned from a trip to a bookstore? I’m sure I could get motivated without them, but it’d take a great deal more effort.