Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Seeing Myself on the Shelf

On Monday afternoon I happened to be driving by the Half-Price Books-store in Avon.  Naturally, I stopped to browse.  Didn't buy anything (should have!) but I did happen to notice myself on the shelf.  I was perusing the "Self-Help" section when, BANG!, there I was . . . or, I should say, some of my books were there. 

No doubt remaindered, the titles looked pristine and I wondered:  Who bought these books and then traded them in for a used DVD of No Time for Sergeants?  I nearly redeemed the books myself, thinking it would be fun to walk up to the front counter and ask, "What can you tell me about the idiot who wrote these books?"

I love playing with a manager's psyche, watching his eyes spin when he looks at the author photo on the back and thinks:  This guy isn't playing with a full deck.

Sometimes, it's fun to take these used copies and place them in strategic places around the store:  on top of the unisex bathroom toilet seat, near the cash register, in the "Sexuality" section.  It is fun to slip copies into someone's basket when they aren't looking, and then watch their reactions at the checkout when they realize they've been duped. 

These are the few joys that a writer has in life . . . there are no others.  Writers don't, after all, enjoy stellar cuisine, or drive posh sports cars, or have sex.  They sit in front of a keyboard and expel gas.  They eat pop tarts straight out of the box . . . for dinner.  Writers send their families away on vacation while they stay home to write another essay on "Living With Rickets" or "How to Make Money from Shining Other People's Brass."  Writers ruin their eyes staring at pages of text and then they eat more pop tarts.  Blueberry.

I think of these things every time I find one of my titles on a used-bookstore shelf.  But I'm grateful to be a part of an industry that allows me to earn upwards of ninety-seven cents a month.  That's how I buy my licorice.

All of the rest, as they say, is gravy.  And writers are the ones looking for the giblets.

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