I am enthralled by books. The way they look, the way they smell, the smooth way the pages flick upon your fingers as you flip through them. I love inspecting the covers, noticing the intricate designs. I love to imagine all the thought that went into the simplicity of their spines.
I love bookstores, too. It’s one of my favorite activities to simply go into one. I walk around, pulling out books at random. I like to stand in the aisle, as people mill about around me, open a book to its first page and read the first lines. I like to wonder what the author was thinking as they wrote those first words. Were they excited? Nervous? Did they know that they had just written something that would someday make its way into the hands of a complete stranger?
For those who don't know, the word ‘romantic’ means, “characterized by an expression of love.” To me, that’s what books are. They represent the outpouring of a person – heart, body, and soul – onto pages. They represent stories and adventure, heartache and loss. They represent hard work and passion. To read a good book is to take a journey into the mind of another.
When I decided I wanted to be a writer, it didn’t feel like something I picked, it was something that was unveiled to me, slowly and in phases.
When I was young I would sit on the couch with my mom’s laptop and type out stories of fabulous young girls who lived in fabulous houses. Their rooms were always adorned in silks and velvets, with lavish vanities and huge walk-in closets stacked with clothing. They had small dogs with cute names and a circle of loyal friends. And, of course, they had crushes on the cutest boys in school. Mind you, these girls were only supposed to be about twelve, but they were the representation of my middle-school dream world.
When I was in my late teenage years I started writing about boys. I started to write about the boys who had broken my heart. I wrote whatever popped into my head, stream of consciousness style. I swore a lot, because I was trying to be honest, but I was also probably trying to be edgy. Writing came with such ease to me then. I wrote whatever I wanted to and I had little thought about who read it. Fuck it, you know?
I didn’t begin to study writing until college and the more I studied it, two things began to happen – I fell more in love with it, but it also became harder to do. I didn’t want to just write words. I didn’t want to just type out whatever came to me. I wanted to write something that mattered. I wanted to string together words with thought and care. I wanted to paint pictures in the minds of my readers. I wanted to make people think, and act, and love, and be better.
I had plans and dreams and aspirations for my writing. I would write in magazines and publish in newspapers. I would become an editor at a major publication and eventually publish my own book...and I would do all of this in my twenties. An overachiever all my life, I thought that I had been following a path that would allow me to do all this and more.
So, when I took a job in Washington, DC, an amazing job that offered many opportunities, but not necessarily writing opportunities, part of my heart felt a little heavy. In some ways, I felt like I was abandoning my dreams. It felt like I had just gone on this long journey to find my passion, and suddenly I wouldn’t be investing my 'all' into it anymore. If I wasn’t actively pursuing my other goals, my writing goals, would I lose them somehow? Would I miss my chance?
These weren’t questions I was asking myself lightly. I had just moved all the way across the country, an act of bravery, many told me, but somewhere inside I was doubting myself. I thought I was losing something that I had just spent years working so hard for; I thought I might be giving up something before I got the chance to really see it through.
I know now that I was wrong. Yes, my job may not label me as a writer. My job involves planning, and communication with clients, and scheduling, and traveling to different events. My job involves learning to be a better employee and a better person, and teaching others those goals as well. I lucked out, I have a great job, it just doesn’t happen to be the job I thought I’d be in.
Our paths may change, but our passions never really die. Just because I am embarking down a different path, it doesn’t mean that I have to give up on any of my dreams. Because I still have those dreams, sitting inside of me, bubbling around in my brain, moving and growing and waiting until they become part of reality.
These days, I read books like they are my medicine, because they are feeding my passions, reminding me of my dreams. I read them and I marvel at the work they took to create, the vision that they came from, the perseverance involved. And that’s why I walk through bookstores, thinking to myself that they are the most romantic places in the world, because when I am surrounded by all those books, I feel as if I'm surrounded by hundreds and thousands of accomplished dreams.