I went for a walk this morning. Both my studies and my writing are frustrating me to no end at present, I haven’t been sleeping well and I’m starved for human contact. Walking rather than working seemed warranted. Usually I walk to the shops when I need to get out of the house, in a straight line with a clear purpose in mind. This time I followed my feet.
My wanderings took me to a second-hand bookshop – the only one in my town (sad thought, isn’t it?) It’s not a very big bookshop. They don’t even arrange their fiction by genre (except for romance which has a whole wall for itself – guess that tells you all you need to know about my town). They do, however, have two sections for English fiction. Not for older books and newer books. Not for better versus poorer condition. It seems that they initially arranged their books from A to Z and, when they got a bunch of new stock, created a second section rather than spread out the existing books on the shelf to make space for the new ones.
I also came across this:
If you’re staring at the screen thinking, “What am I supposed to be looking at?” let me enlighten you. Yes, L. Ron Hubbard was a well-known Science Fiction writer, so his books belong in the fiction shelf. However, Dianetics is not Science Fiction. Dianetics is a self-help book that Hubbard later expanded to form his “religion” called Scientology. (On second thought, maybe the fiction shelf is exactly where it belongs 😀 ) And on the second fiction shelf, also filed under H, another copy of Dianetics. I also spotted an Afrikaans translation of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010 in a shelf full of English non-fiction.
I have only one explanation for this…shall we call it negligence? The people who run this bookshop don’t love books. They don’t know their merchandise. They merely sell it. It’s just a business. I’ve noticed the same thing at the video store: dramas shelved under comedies, decidedly adult comedies shelved under kiddies, etc.
There used to be a bookshop in town that had a manager who loved his books. I’m pretty sure the manager read every book there – if I walked in the door he would approach with a book in his hand that he thought I would like. That’s another thing. He did not only knew his books, he knew his customers and what they liked. For him it wasn’t just business. He loved it.
This experience reminded me that you must love what you do if you truly want to do it properly.
I’ve been wondering more and more often whether I made the right decision quitting my job at the school. I was quite good at it, if truth be told. But I didn’t love it. I loved the kids, but not the work. And it was starting to show, at least from my perspective. To continue with something I didn’t love would only frustrate me and eventually it would negatively influence the children with whom I was working.
While it is possible to do something well even if you don’t love it, loving what you do will always make it better. The ideal is, of course, to do what you love, but more on that later.