There’s this thing I do. At least once a week. I go to the bookstore – usually Chapters because handily there is a Starbucks there to work from. I get a lot of comfort from going to the bookstore. It’s like my secret thinking rock. If you’ve ever watched The Duff you’ll understand.
Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a writer. Now you could argue that I was born with a need to write, or you could argue that because I had a vivid imagination, always inventing and creating things, the adults in my life told me I was destined to be a writer. Honestly it doesn’t matter where the spark to write came from, the truth is that it exists. Over the years I have almost snuffed that spark out, smothering it with work, depriving it from the oxygen needed to turn into a beautiful flame. Recently I’ve done a lot of work stoking that spark into a flame.
And this brings me back to bookstores. I walk into one and I literally breathe easier. There is a comfort in walking the aisles of a bookstore, brimming with pages written by mere mortals like myself. There is a comfort in touching the spines of books by authors who I feel a deep connection with, having poured over countless pages of their words, creating a relationship with their characters, only to grieve when the last page is turned. There is a comfort in reading the back of a book, like meeting a new friend. There is a comfort in the kids section, picking up those beautiful hard covered books, the sound of my fingers on the book jacket, and the flick of turning their glossy, colourful pages.
Truth is, I could have the exact opposite reaction. I could walk into a bookstore and be completely overwhelmed by the number of books and authors, and how hard they fought to get their words published. The air could be snatched from my lungs by the thought of how hard writing is, and how I have to compete against all of these other people, and my god, they are good! I could react in that way, but I don’t. I never do. I sometimes have thoughts, sure, of the fact that writing is hard, being a successful writer, even harder. But because there is this spark that is growing to a flame, I never let these thoughts overwhelm me.
It doesn’t matter if you want to be a writer, an astronaut, a fashion designer, or a CEO, you are always going to have competition. But instead of looking at people as your competition, what happens when you look at them as your inspiration. There is always going to be someone who is that much further ahead than you, who has produced their designs at an earlier age, who made more money, who bought more cars. There is probably something about that person that you can take a lesson from, and there are probably many things that you wouldn’t trade for.
I find my happy place steeped in the beauty created by what could be my competitors. What is the space that provides you with inspiration to turn that faltering spark into an inferno?