Being Library

(Reprinted from the January 2011 Willamette Writers newsletter with some revamping.)

On the first day of September 2000, my first fallish day as an Oregonian, I was walking into the public library in Lake Oswego when an elderly man with a beaming smile held the door open for me and said, “Have a library day.” It’s possible I didn’t hear him correctly. Or maybe, like my mother,  he had Alzheimer’s and was not using the word he had intended. But it got me thinking about library as a descriptor. A Library Day sounded good. Maybe not as spectacular as a wedding day or Christmas day, but better than a bad day or an average day.  A Library Day sounded full of possibility, learned yet humble and wholesome.

And if library could be an adjective, was I Library? I went through my life and tried to take a reading (as it were)  – I was going to the public library to check out a book. Obviously that was Library of me. And it was a collection of literary short stories – very Library — one written by my boyfriend’s cousin, David Schickler – Library by proximity. AND I was listening to an audio book in my car – more Library than listening to pop music on the radio. (But I still hadn’t figured out which station played NPR – that would’ve been Librarier.) The book on tape was a Stephen King. I know what you’re thinking — not as Library as a John Steinbeck. But it was King’s book on writing, so hah! Definitely Library.

That day the weather was cool, the air clean and crisp, autumn leaves drifting from the trees around me as I walked to my car. I was wearing a sweater. This all seemed very Library indeed – not sure why. Is it because it was more like New York weather than L.A. where I grew up or Hawaii where I’d just moved from? Why does Oregon seem more literary to me than my past cities?  Sweater weather and deciduous trees ~~ that’s what makes the NW so great and Librariesque.

And Librariest of all, I was a novelist. You might think that the fact that I was unpublished at the time would’ve made me slightly less Library, but NO. There’s nothing more Library than an unpublished novelist.

Which brings me to you.

Whether you are a reader or a writer, published or about to be published, it matters not. You are deeply Library. You are reading this blog. And not just the first line. You have books in your home because you love to read – novels, research books, volumes of poetry. You have paper all around you — too much paper, both filed and unfiled. You love to write, or at the very least, you love to read about writing. You might have a writer’s support group or a critique group where you can revel in the company of other writers. All this is supremely Library.

So, here’s to you. You lovers of literature. May you find time to finish that book you’re halfway done with and may the last page inspire you to the core. And to you writers, may you get your pages done on time for your next critique meeting and may they thrill you. May you get a “yes, send complete mss” reply from your latest query letter. May your skies be brooding and your sweaters warm. May your laptop glow blue in the winter’s dark. May you wake at two in the morning with an open book on your chest, or an open pen bleeding onto your legal pad of scribbled notes, and find you’ve dreamed a great scene for your next book. May you write a whole page tomorrow morning while your coffee’s still hot. 

And have a Library Day.


3 Responses to “Being Library”

  1. celiajolley Says:


  2. Nikita Says:


    How do you come out of a “Zombie” zone. For last couple of months, I haven’t been able to pen down anything. I feel my sense that felt things or used to be touched when reading an emotional book or watching a touching movie, has gone into slumber. In this state, if I try penning down anything, it just comes out trash.

    Any suggestions would help a great deal.

    • Laura Whitcomb Says:

      I haven’t had that exact experience, but my gut instinct is to say this: If I was you I would not beat myself up for not being able to produce any wonderful writing right now. Try to be patient. Write at least a little each day, but start out by writing about how strange it is not to be able to feel the way you used to. And how it feels to be having a dry spell with writing. And listen to your inner-self in case there is something in your spirit that needs to heal. I don’t know if that helps, but that was what came to me.

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