Library Dreams

 Photo: Florian Monheim

Photo: Florian Monheim

At the end of 2016 I submitted Canowic to the Multnomah County Library Writers Project, an annual call for submissions by local authors. The book was selected for inclusion in the library's catalogue, which, as a devoted library patron, thrilled me to no end. Even more exciting was the revelation, a couple weeks later, that the library had already doubled the number of copies they were stocking, and, still more amazing, that none of those copies were available; they were all checked out, and there were even people with holds on the book, waiting in line for copies to come available. 

My earliest library memories involve our local branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. I recently went back and tried to figure out which branch this would have been, but all the locations closest to my childhood home seem to be new glass and chrome buildings, which doesn't square with my recollections of a small brick structure, cloaked in ivy, more castle than contemporary. My dad would be able to tell me where we'd gone instantly, but I find I don't really want my memories upended. 

Writing is a solitary endeavor, and so is the task of attempting to engage others in your work, be they magazine editors, literary agents, or the reading public at large. There are plenty of opportunities for discouragement, but also moments of wonder, where you realize that something you have created has gone out into the world and touched a stranger. I like to imagine some kid at my local branch here in Portland coming across one of my books on a shelf someday, pulling it down out of curiosity, and starting to read. 

Ben Bishop