Thirteen Things I Learned From Owning A Bookstore

October 29, 2019 § 5 Comments

Thirteen Things I Learned From Owning A Bookstore

 

trust your writing

March 30, 2016 § 2 Comments

girl writing

 

trust your writing.

 

even if you don’t want to go there

even if you don’t know where the beginning is

or the middle or the end

 

even if it’s hard

because there will be days

when it’s fucking hard

 

that thing you want to censor?

don’t

 

that’s where your art lives

 

writing is a a powerful thing

allow it to take you somewhere

allow it to care for you

 

trust your writing.

 

thank you

November 24, 2015 § 7 Comments

nancy botta picture of our shop

I’ve been a hot dog vendor, a shoe salesperson, a middle-school teacher, and a catholic school principal, but owning a bookstore has given me moments with the most eclectic tribe of humans of all.

There’s the crime scene cleaner who talked to me about the delicate line between detachment and sensitivity while I rang up her pile of fantasy books,

and the human statue who paints himself silver by day and writes poetry by night,

and the teen girl who builds wells in Uganda every summer and keeps a journal in her back pocket.

There’s the molecular gastronomist who began her career as an ice-cream tester (gah!),

the organic farmer who lives in a school bus and donates her harvest to a food kitchen,

the six-year old botany expert who arrives each month to buy the latest plant book,

and the bingo manager who fights for housing equality.

There’s the Iraq soldier without arms who still believes the world is ‘awesome’ and before he goes to college next year he wants to read one book every week,

and the father who resolved in 2015 to read to his children every night and hasn’t missed a night yet.

There’s the 14-year old playwright who had her script about a transgender teen accepted by a local theater,

and the grandfather who brings his six grandchildren into the bookstore each year and gives each one a book bag to fill with books of their choice,

and the locomotive engineer who doesn’t wear a watch.

There’s the eleven-year old who organized a youth empowerment book club,

the soil conservationist who fell in love with a snail farmer,

and a photographer who films sea creatures I’ve never heard of,

and the twenty-two year old man, who chose to communicate only through writing for 365 days and when we met, he was on day 224 and feeling like his entire mind and body had changed—in a sacred way.

There’s the child who sat by me for an entire hour and told me about the rare birds she’d seen in Puerto Rico and how someday she’ll be an ornithologist,

and the clown who struggled to be taken seriously,

and the firefighter who worked at ground-zero for three months and read Emily Dickinson every night she was there…

so many stories…

and I am beyond grateful for every single one of them, and each of you. Your words matter more than you know. Thank you from the depths of my heart for walking into our tiny bookstore and believing in books and making the world we work and play in a little less chaotic and a little more beautiful.

September 25, 2015 § 5 Comments

red pencil

 

dear sweet writer who recently dipped your pen back into the word waters and joined a writing group—i know you were nervous because it was your first writing group ever…i know you were worried about your grammar and that your 8th grade English teacher with her BIG FAT RED pen still loomed large on your shoulder, ready to stab your incorrect use of “its” (gasp!) and your overuse of adverbs (double gasp!)—her relentless scrutiny feeding your self-doubt—but let me tell you,

we are not her.

we heard the shooting stars in your story, we felt the sentences that sang a new perspective, we witnessed what mattered to you and we thank you for taking the chance with us. we’ll read your stories as clean or dirty as you bring them to us… and when you are ready, (and there’s no rush) we can help you refine them too…but only you can tell your story and you did it today, beautifully.

 

 

Hooray!

January 2, 2015 § 7 Comments

 

girl_silhouette2

 

Today, a little girl, not more than six years old, came into the bookstore with her mother. While her mother perused the poetry section, the little girl bounced over to me.

“Are you a writer?” she asked.

“Yes, I am.”

“How do you know?” she said, fingering the novels on the shelf next to her.

“Well, because it’s one of my most loved things to do in the whole world.”

She looked me straight on. “Do you think I’m old enough to be a writer?”

“Do you write?”

“Yes. A lot. So much.”

“What do you write?” I asked.

“Beautiful things!” she said, but then her face dropped. “And sometimes sad things.” She climbed up on the red chair next to me, crossed her purple cowboy boots and said, “Once I wrote about a rock named Pebble who lost his mom because someone threw her in a river…to see if she could skip. She couldn’t skip. It was a very sad story.” She shook her head and it looked like she might cry.

“Do you think you’re a writer?” I said.

Her young face opened. Brown eyes full of believing. “Yes!”

“Well then, I’d say you’re a writer.”

She gasped, hopped off the chair and began racing all over the store shouting, “I’m a writer! I’m a writer! Hooray!”

May she repeat that phrase many, many times before she meets her first critic and may it seep so deep into her being, no one can ever take away the truth of it.

 

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