The Oppression of Libraries

Another thing you here a lot of writers blathering on about is books. “Oh, I just love books, the feel of them, the smell, I collect hundreds, thousands, would like nothing more than to be buried beneath a mountain of books.”

Well, I’ve realized that I hate books. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading a book. But there’s a real importance in number here. Like anything, when they swarm in great numbers books are threatening, disturbing, even disgusting.

One of the worst things a writer can do, in fact, is walk into a library. Have an idea? Guess what you’re likely to find it here. That novel title you just came up with? It’s been used twice.

And this isn’t just about all the “anxiety of influence” crap. You can accept that there is nothing knew under the sun, and be OK with that, and yet still be terrified of libraries, not just because you’re idea’s been done before, but because millions of other ideas you were too stupid to think up were done before as well.

It’s not so much the books you’ve read either. It’s easy to read a book, toss it aside and conclude that your writing is better, but then there are all those books you haven’t read. Surely somewhere in those stacks of sagging shelves there leans at least one masterpiece that would make irrelevant all present past and future scribblings that bear your name.

Anyone who can look at a library and think that the world has any need for them to write even a single word is delusional, egomaniacal, or just plain stupid.

My suggestion to any writer then would be to deal with books only one at a time. Never own any, lest your personal library overwhelm you with crippling reminders of your own inadequacy, and never actually visit the library yourself. Hire some one to check out books for you one at a time, and sleep happy in the illusion that what your reading right now is all there is, and surely you can do better than that.

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