Looking from shelf to shelf, picking up book after book, I felt awed. And overwhelmed.
Anyone who thinks traditional publishing is dying should go to a bookstore and check out the “New Releases” section. I found books about grace, the Holocaust, curation, A.I., nature walks in the U.K., being a pilot and so much more. Every single one was interesting. Every page that I flicked to and began to read spun my roundabout of thought.
Perhaps publishing is dying. I wouldn’t know. I’m not an industry insider or expert. But if it is, it’s a slow death. Like when someone is told they have a terminal disease. They gasp, thinking they have months. But the doctor tells them they’ll die in twenty years. It doesn’t feel like a death sentence.
Being there, in the bookshop, surrounded by great ideas slickly packaged, I felt two things. First, discouraged. “I’m releasing my own book soon. This is what I have to compete with? These people, who are smarter, more accomplished and more interesting than me, are who I have to compete with?”
Second, inspired. “Look at all the ideas. The experiences available, ready to be digested, remixed, and used to take humanity to a higher level. Think about what the rest of the world is doing while you stand here. The battles they’re fighting. The problems they’re solving. The work they’re doing and the impact it’s having.”
The first feeling comes from scarcity. From thinking that if you can’t win the game, you shouldn’t bother playing. It arises from the misunderstanding that the world is fickle. That they don’t want to hear what you have to say or witness what you want to create for it.
The second feeling comes from abundance. From the realisation that the world is made better when you make a sincere contribution to it, regardless of it’s commercial success. From the knowledge that everyone, everywhere has something to give.
The first sees competition as an inhibitor. The second sees it as encouragement. But what you don’t realise until these two feelings arise is this. You can choose between them.
Your feelings are not final. Unpleasant thoughts and feelings spring up and you can’t help that. It would be unwise to try and suppress everything you didn’t want to feel. You can’t stop them coming into being. But you can choose whether to accept them or not. You can select which feelings you allow to penetrate further.
In the bookstore, I chose to be awed and inspired, rather than overwhelmed and intimidated. I hope that in the future I can make the right choice once again.