Vanishing Bookstores

Crossroads books exists. If you Google it, you’ll find the name. There’s a lovely website with an address. It’s simple and small and everything you would expect from a bookstore in Culpepper, VA. When you call the number, the husband and wife who own the store answer. Would you like a book? If they don’t have it in stock, they can order it for you. You can pick it up when it’s arrived.

When you get the call, you drive down one lonely highway after another, past dairy farms and construction supply depots and the occasional Buddhist ashram until you reach this tiny store. Hidden between a Johnny Rebel boot repair shop and a walk-in medical clinic, it feels more like a closet than a store. The counter is a tiny desk with an old-fashoned register. They let you browse around, hand you your book, and are always smiling when you check out.

One grey afternoon you decide to drop in and browse the shelves. You go to the exact same spot as before, and look between the Johnny Rebel and the walk-in clinic. You see nothing. The stores have expanded, just a little, pressing the closet-small bookstore out of existance. You pick up the phone and dial the number. The voice mail answers, thank you for calling, letting you know you can place an order at any time. They will do their best to assist. Please call first before pick-up.

New Skins

First, if you have an allergy or aversion to existential moments, where one looks into the face of ennui and questions one’s position in the world, I’d skip most of this entry. In the last few weeks, my day job underwent several massive changes. Structures were taken, shaken and shattered. We are now operating under a “Leap before you Look” process and I am not happy with it. My definition of my job, which did have many stressful and annoying moments, held some positive meaning. “I’m making a difference.” I told myself.

Now, I walk into work exhausted, and leave sleepwalking. “Why am I here? What am I doing?”

The existential questions about my money making job bleed into my writing. I’m looking at my projects, at Ivre and Metaphysical Graffiti. I wonder if I’m doing anything other than just dumping words on a page. It was enough for me to say, “I’m writing a story I’d want to read.” The desire to fill in a missing story, to create a tale I wish to read, but could not find anywhere, started me down this road. And now I’m wondering if that’s enough.

“You should write something with depth and meaning! What are you saying?”

If I knew what I was saying, I wouldn’t be writing this entry. This is something I’ll have to puzzle out.

And now this:

Rethinking Shannon

I’m at a little spot in DC, on the corner of Fifth and K Street called Busboys and Poets. Having secured a two person table by the door, I ordered a bowl of shrimp and grits, and thought of Shannon.

Shannon being one of the characters from Metaphysical Graffiti. I had her set a certain way in my mind when I first started outlining the book, but bit by bit she changed under me. I started scribbling notes, altering her background in pretty vital ways. I think I will need to scrap large chunks of the outline and start again.

I suppose this happens to everyone. Creative endeavors shift under you, like a sidewalk pushed up and broken by tree roots under the cement. I guess only time will show if the tree ripping up my sidewalk bears fruit, or rots away.