~ Book buyers anonymous ~

Books[Images from the brilliant Book Cover Archive]

I buy a lot of books, at least two or three a week – it's a sickness, really. Fiction, non-fiction, cookery, business, poetry, art, photography, spiritual, self-awareness, inspiration. As i no longer drink or smoke, it really is my only vice – well, that and buying film for a certain camera. I like to have books around me, as evidenced by the piles on, under and beside my coffee table; the two teetering piles beside my bed; the warped shelves stuffed with books. I try to stick to a one-in one-out policy, so that any time I purchase something new – glasses, plates, tea light holders, whatever – the older items are taken to the charity shop; alas, i fall down when it comes to the lovely beautiful books. Today i forced myself to fill up a couple of bags with books to take to Oxfam, but i know i'll come back with more bargains.

I think i'm always on the search for the perfect book. You know the one? The book that you'll carry in your bag wherever you go. The book that you scribble notes in. The book you turn to when you need something to lift you up. The book you can quote by heart. I have yet to find that book. I mean, i have many books i treasure, and i can think of four or five i could mix in a blender for a near-perfect book smoothie. The other night i was trying to unwind, bored of television, computered-out, and i picked up book after book, flipped through page after page, and nothing stuck. And the next thought was: write the book you want to read. Just get on with it, for heaven's sake!*

In my first ever blog post i mentioned that i was writing a book. I honestly can't think of a time when i haven't been writing or making notes towards a book idea. These days I'm feeling the urge to run away to a remote cabin in the countryside, where i can sit with my laptop (absolutely NO internet access) and start stitching together everything i have written so far. Make a proper start on something concrete. But i also know that the words need the fertile soil of my life around them to help them grow. I can't write in a vacuum, as much as i'd like to; it's just that the soil is a bit too fertile these days. I'm pouring everything i can into my courses, and concerning myself with building something sustainable – something i've never had in my life, other than the love of my family. I see my sister growing my niece/nephew and with every day that passes she is building her own family, one that will consist of the three of them. and i want some of that too, but it will be in my own way: i no longer relate to the word "single" – i am simply a family of one.

But I digress. It's time to accept that there's never going to be a perfect sea of endless days when i can write. I will always have other stuff to do. So if that's the case, then i may as well just get on with it. I don't want to be one of those people who talks about the book and never actually writes it. It's time to face up to what's really going on here – blatant fear of failure. Why do our creative dreams cause us so much angst? – and just start somewhere. Even if i do feel like my days are already full-to-bursting, I can still eek out some time. No more talk; it's time to put my pen where my mouth is.

* the language i used was a shade more colourful

36 responses
  1. tawnya

    Ugh. I talk of the book A LOT. I talk, I take notes, I make excuses. It’s been at the forefront of my mind for the past few months and becomming harder to ignore. Just write, already. I, too, need to eek out the time.

  2. Amanda

    Oh you know I can relate to that feeling of being scared to start.
    You’re a writer Susannah, it’s who you are.
    The perfect book is hard to find. I live with a man who eats books and he makes me feel guilty about how little I have read in comparison (my guilt- nothing he does) but I think a lot of it for me is that I get so disappointed when books don’t blow me away.
    When a book doesn’t have me so enthralled and caught up in it that I can’t wait to pick it up again, I feel cheated. I put every book I read on that pedestal and most can’t live up to it.
    I wish I could read the volume that he does.

  3. Anthony Matthews

    Well, well, well… Maybe it’s a Sunday thing? It’s often the day when we stop and reflect on what is and isn’t happening in our lives and how we feel about it. It seems like you’re putting it to good use to tackle the thorny issue of what you actually want, as opposed to what you think you want and want you feel you ought to want. You’re so much further down the road of discovery than me; it’s brought a gentle smile to my face. Keep going.

  4. Jennifer White

    I feel the exact same way about books…there are the times that I buy the book, and maybe don’t even start it for a very long time. I like the smell, the touch, the pages, the cover art…I guess I am in a love affair with books.
    With that said, I really don’t understand the newest trend of the Kindle for electronic reading. I mean, what fun is it to hold it and read electronically? You don’t get to feel the pages…it’s just not for me. I even love the way a library smells! Yes Susannah, it truly is a sickness. But I love it.

  5. gem

    “family of one”…
    mmmh. i’d like to hear more about this…

  6. amy

    my local bookshops can attest to the fact that i share your book buying habits. i’m not sure about the idea of a perfect book. i think there are so many of them that are perfect for a particular moment – a rainy afternoon or a long train trip. i would read your book, for sure, whenever it makes an appearance!

  7. charlane

    your words + your photography = heavenly concoction
    i used to want to write a book but, i never can get it out

  8. Marthe

    I love books too! And I buy far much books, I never have time to read them all! But there’s something about them that attracts me, the smell, the feel, the look. So exciting. And they say never to judge a book by its cover, but I do… ;) There’s nothing better than a beautiful cover to a beautiful book!
    As for the writing, have you ever heard about NaNoWriMo? November is write-that-book-month! It’s all about quantity, not quality, but I find it’s a great way to get started! Just write, don’t think. You can always edit later! Good luck!

  9. Carol

    A family of one.. I love that :-)

  10. jeanine

    do it, baby! i’d buy your book f’sho. also. those book covers are glorious and would make great journals, non?

  11. Megan Warren

    I love books too – they are my vice! Are you starting a self help group – lol!

  12. barbara

    beautiful books covers… and yes i would say to start writting that book!!!
    i can relate to that angst!!!

  13. vera b

    i don’t want to be a person that says that ‘one day’ i will have the life i want, or ‘one day’ i will be happy. as though it is some magical place that exists.
    no way.
    write Susannah. be a ‘do-er’. you have nothing to lose.

  14. Alex

    I’ve just discovered your blog – not sure where I’ve been all this time! Looking forward to exploring your archives…
    And I’m a bit of a bookophile too, but in some cases I just buy them for the covers!

  15. Dee Wilcox

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I love books, too – too much, in fact. I’ve tried to bring my book-buying habit into control, but it does seem that I am always looking for the *perfect* book.
    I read through some of the comments, and my hangup, too, comes from just trying to get the story out, and wondering if it’s really in there. I have thought to myself, “Just WRITE the story you want to read!” – a thought that is always followed by insecurity and questioning.
    I’m with you – I don’t want to be someone who talks about the book and never writes it. You CAN do it! And hopefully we’ll all join you. :)

  16. leonie

    i want to buy a copy of every book shown in that picture! i’m a bit of an addict too, though travelling has taught me to keep them moving through my house, rather than taking up space on shelves.
    i know you know what you need to do to get that book written. put me down for 10 copies.

  17. pixie

    Get on with it, woman! If creating the book is about living YOUR dream and not someone else’s dream, it will happen. You are awake and you have declared it! Your stories are important and I, for one, want to hear them.
    xo p

  18. Catalina

    The book needs some “gestation” time s it is normal to talk about it :)
    is like magic stuff, you find things (some very difficult to) you put them together in a cauldron, stir things up and after a moment the “potion” is made!
    part of the process is happening on your heart and mind and needs maturation
    to start is a must
    fill a blank page
    what a wonderful adventure! gooooooooooooooooo!

  19. blue bicicletta

    I am a library-a-holic myself—if I had the money, I’d be right there with you buying up a storm. I love books so much—there seems to be a whole universe inside each one.
    I second some of the comments above about needing to just write—quantity, not quality. I may have recommended this book to you before, but have you read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott? It is the most hilarious book that talks about just this sort of thing. I’ve also heard it said that if you write just 1 page a day, you will have a book-length stack of pages in a year. Plus, really, you’ve already written a book here on this blog.

  20. laura

    Congratulations on taking one more step towards your new adventure. I always find the starting off of a project the hardest part, silent excuses build and build.
    The book which I am clinging to at the moment is Paulo Cohelo’s “Like the Flowing River”, it is filling my soul.

  21. Nathalie

    I’ve also been in that place where I say: why just don’t I get on with it, get it out? So this November, with a little bit of help of Nanowrimo, I’m writing something. Wonder why that urge of finally put all the image inside outside and work to be who I want.
    Oh wait, I turn 25 that same month. Why a milestone birthday has that impact?

  22. eliz needham

    susannah—I know that one day you will get your “book” out but girlie, 1) you create visual narratives every day through your pictures and 2) you have already created two amazing best sellers through your two course: Unravelling and Exploring the Senses—they touched me as much ( and in some ways, more than) my go-to favourites….
    oh–I am also glad to hear there are other book addicts out there—books and stationary and letter press cards and blank journals—egad–but oh, the pleasure, the pleasure!!!

  23. Ruth

    I’m a book addict too. And a writer. I understand.

  24. Claire Sewell

    I did exactly what you described: I wrote the book that I sought but could never find. A tip? Fool yourself at every turn so you don’t freak out. I’d say things like: “If I had a magic wand, what would it give me?”, or: “If I knew what to write next, what would it be?”. I swear this mental trickery works a treat. Good luck!!!

  25. Neil

    I’m embarrassed to say that since I started blogging, I have been reading books less and less. (as well as watching TV less too!) And I think that is very bad for my creativity.
    This is a practical question more than anything else — how do you find the time to read so much?! We’re all friends here, right. You can be honest. Are you actually making it through all three of these books a week, or are your eyes a little bigger than your actual reading appetite?

  26. Jen Jafarzadeh

    it’s so true to realize there’s never a perfect “free time” to follow through on a dream. you should definitely go for it with your book! And nowadays, with blurb, and all the independent booksellers, there’s a medium to get your book out there and not be stuck with just having a big publisher pick it up. I’d love to read a book that pairs your beautiful writing and your polaroids.

  27. Patricia

    I just have to say I think really you’ve already started you just have to think of your blog and classes as reference material and there ya go.

  28. Thea

    there are always a million opportunities-especially online, but I just started the portfolio project that Jen Lee and Jen Lemen did last year? anyway. It inspired me because it is about quantity rather than quality. I know this worked for me with photography-to just keep taking photos, so I am hoping it will help me to start writing on my personal blog again.
    Been thinking of you girl, so much.

  29. Amisha

    You go girl! When in doubt – refer to the Nike spirit – “Just do it” :-).

  30. tifanie

    oh i completely relate in sooo many ways. *

  31. Matthew

    You have the perfect ingredients in order to create a wonderful story and smoothie. Do it for yourself, do it for your followers, please just do it.
    I also share your enthusiasm for the written word. And As a impecunious young man I envy your dedication to your addiction.
    Write every morning before, after, or even during your shower.
    -I wish you the best,

  32. Mel

    Mel stands up raises her hand and says: Yes me too, I am a book addict.
    I cannot be without books, I’ve tried – once. I didn’t like it. I have about 5 books on the go at one time. Fiction, non-fiction, I blooming own 180 cookbooks. I try to reduce the amount of books we have at the moment, but it’s hard. I have my favourites that I re-read like Max Frisch, Maria Nurowska and Grass (sorry am German…).
    I don’t want a self-help group to be honest. I love it. Loving books, loving to read, loving words that is such a huge part of me and my identity. Such a huge part of my “childhood survival” that I need it like other people need fresh air.

  33. Sarah Fain

    A friend recently glanced at my credit card statement and said, “So, what, are you some kind of book addict?” Almost every charge was to Amazon. Swear to God. I have so many books I got a Kindle so they would take up less space. But that’s what I love… what’re you gonna do?
    Before I started writing my first book, I reminded myself constantly of Anne Lamott’s mantra, “bird by bird.” If you haven’t read it, her book on writing (appropriately called “Bird by Bird”) is well worth the time. Her approach to writing is real and comforting and, best of all, funny.
    Good luck with your book! (For what it’s worth, with my two books, I wrote for an hour first thing in the morning. As in, without getting out of bed. There are no guarantees that you’ll remember what you wrote by nightfall, but your brain doesn’t have any blocks working that early in the day, so very often the words just flowed…)

  34. Rebecca Darlington

    I, too, have just discovered your writing. Just think of what we’d all miss out on if you didn’t take that first step on your book path. I am an artist, painter and sculpting, and creating is the single most important task I can do today. Go for it. Love your blog!

  35. Imene

    I am a total bookaholic (if that word exists). It’s as much about reading as it is about the thrill of owning a new book. The search of the holy grail, hoping to find the book that will answer all questions.
    I thrive to lead a more simple, minimalist life but that doesn’t include my book lust.
    My father just gifted me a kindle and I am afraid what will happen with the ease of ordering in one click ;o)
    That said the pleasure of holing a book…ahh pure bliss

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