When I first moved to New York City almost six years ago, I noticed an incredible phenomenon on the NYC subway system. Down below the sewer mains, and bustling traffic, people were reading books. The crowded subway cars were filled with readers. Even people who couldn’t get a seat, clung onto the pole with one hand and a book with the other. Their cup of coffee usually balancing somewhere between their arm and chest. For an aspiring writer, it was a sight that brought tears of joy to my eyes.
Studying the covers of the books people read, I considered my commute a living bookstore. Oftentimes I would see the same book more than once and felt compelled to buy it. I didn’t need the New York Times to tell me the list of bestselling books — I could see it with my own eyes.
It was during that time I pinpointed my dream. I wanted to see someone holding my book on the subway. I wanted to see a stranger biting her nails and furrowing her brow as she turned the pages of my thoughts.
Now I’m afraid that won’t happen. Not because I’m not writing, but because everyone has a damn e-reader and I can’t see what they’re reading. Six years ago, people laughed at the kindle and nook. Us traditionalists thought that would never catch on. Occasionally you would see one or two e-readers on the subway but the rest of us gave those weirdos a look of disdain (or at least I did (or at least I thought about doing it)). Now they’re everywhere.
I have no idea what to read because I can’t browse the subways anymore, and my favorite bookstores are closing down one by one.
My writing has always existed on the screen. Anyone can open up a word document and start typing, but the idea of a team of people who are in the know thinking that my word document is so good they are willing to print it out, slap a beautiful cover on it, and take up valuable shelf space in bookstores across the country is an idea so precious, and so worth fighting for that it has kept me motivated like no inspirational quote, or mentor could ever do for me. One of my biggest professional fears is that by the time I get good enough to be published actual books won’t exist anymore, and my writing will never leave the screen.
Please, I beg you, stop reading the screen. Buy a hardcover book. Buy a paperback. Heck buy a magazine, just don’t let books whither away into oblivion. Don’t kill the dream.