There’s a concept in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics that, somewhere in the halls within which the anthropomorphic personification of dreams resides, there is a library that contains all the books that were never written, including Road Trips to the Emerald City by L. Frank Baum and The Bestselling Romantic Spy Thriller I Used To Think About On The Bus That Would Sell A Billion Copies And Mean I’d Never Have to Work Again by…well, most of us actually.
I love that concept, that somewhere out there is a copy of the book I never wrote. I mean, it was something I always wanted to do, but it got pushed aside once bills had to be paid, and yes, now I’m a blogger and a writer for work, but it’s not the same is it? It’s not the same as seeing something you wrote on someone else’s shelf.
Because books have power, don’t they? We still remember the books we read as children. I recall being a voracious reader as a child, always with my nose in a book, reading as I walked along. My reading has slowed down since then; I blame it on being busy and getting old, but really it’s because I don’t make enough time for it. That’s sad and a shame.
So I guess that’s my plea to anyone out there who wants to do something creative but never gets round to it: just get on with it. Get on with it because you’ll never get any more time and because inspiration won’t strike if you never bother to pick up a pen or a paintbrush. Go ahead and do it – carve that sculpture, compose that symphony, paint that painting, write that book. Use it, don’t lose it.
(I stole “Use it, don’t lose it” from an obscure favourite book of mine, Mid-life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders tour with three chords and an attitude, in which a group of middle-aged writers, including Stephen King, form a rock band and tour America… Which, I guess, is also about seizing opportunities while you’ve got the chance.)
Midnight’s just ticked over, and so World Book Day 2011 was technically yesterday, but that’s okay; it’s not making me think of all the books I’ve read, after all, but all the books that have never been written. And sure, a lot of them suck, but a lot of them are amazing too.
So pick up that pen and write for your life. All future World Book Days await you.
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