Balance and the Bookstore

I’ve always worked in ‘different’ jobs- the independent music industry for over twenty years back when it was fun, as a landscape gardener, as a tree surgeon, as a bookseller.

The most ‘regular’ jobs I’ve ever had were marketing for an investment company, and writing professional resumes for a bunch of yahoos. But that’s the way I liked it, I wasn’t interested in 9 to 5 jobs with limited creativity potential. The creativity in bringing a tree down safely using ropes and pulleys? The art in planting 500 tulip bulbs in a small wood (it belonged to the Producer of those Scream movies) so that they looked natural but also highly visible for maximum impact- those were crazy creative endeavours!

I’m a single mum with two young-ish kids though one is now entering the teenage zone.

And I’m a writer. God, how I love to make up stories!

But (and perhaps it’s the divorce which knocked me from my perfectly centred teeter totter) I feel continually off balance. As if my cup is overflowing and then drained bone-dry.
I’m a mum for the week, juggling school drop-offs, pick-ups, meals and what the heck to give them for lunch, and then the kids go to their dad.
I know, I know!– scores of friends have told me to embrace my independence and I do. I hang with my boyfriend, drink wine, go to sleep late, have coffee in bed, but I miss them the whole time, like I’ve lost my arm temporarily. Nothing feels exactly ‘right’.

And then there’s the other third of my life. Second to my kids and family and friends but equally integral.
I write books. Writing fills me up. I need to do it like I need to breathe. At this point so much of my identity is wrapped up in writing, so much purpose therein. Simply, it’s what I do (and hopefully with some modicum of success).

But every writer knows that the algorithm is not ‘write a book, sell a book’. It is ‘just write the damn book’ (because otherwise you’ll go crazy holding it inside, you won’t be able to breathe, you might just expire from the weight of all those words).
That is a hard way to live. And a harder way to support your kids (and your ever-hungry dogs). And it’s difficult to rationalize spending so much time on something that might not ever pay you.

My first book came out in 2006, my second in 2011, my third(a novella) came out in 2013. I’m always writing but at the moment the best I can hope for is maybe another book in 2016 or 2017. I don’t know what that works out too but it’s nothing to plan dinner on.

So this is what I decided. I needed a job. But not just any job. I needed a job which would offer some flexibility in case of snow days, sick days, and all the other realities of single mum-dom. I needed a job that would feed my soul. And I needed a job where my kids could hang out and where they would want to hang out.

Solution: Open a bookstore. Reading and writing, it’s what I love and it’s what I want to share most with the rest of the world.

Ta Da!!!—-Flash forward about a year, hundreds of meetings and brainstorming sessions, business plan-making and lawyer-meeting, perfect partner-finding, painting, and shelving and poring over publisher’s catalogues.
Oh and making lists. I like lists and so I decided to compile lists of all my favourite books by my favourite authors. And I categorized them by fiction and non-ficition, and YA and MG, and poetry and art, and my partners did it too and BOY are those some long lists and still they only scratch the surface of this immense love we all have for books. And that’s not even including all the NEW books coming out.
So then we made some inventory projections and some cost of inventory projections and slowly, very slowly, we are getting an idea of how many books there will be in this amazing bookstore and how those shelves will look when they are filled.

When I was little and living in England, my mum would drop me and my sister off at The Children’s Bookshop on Broad Street in Oxford, and she’d basically leave us there for hours and hours while she went away and took care of fusty professorial business. I don’t remember anyone ever yelling at us to get off the floor or to stop reading that book or to buy something! All I remember is the shelves stuffed full of books, the sunlight warming the patch on the soft carpet where I sat cross-legged, and the dust motes dancing.

LEXICON BOOKS, hand-picked for readers young and old. We’re opening May 1st and it will be epic.

My heart is so happy.

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