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On books, and on meeting a very special rodent
This past Sunday was one of those special days. I went to a Friends-of-the-library type books sale in the morning, and later in the afternoon, I went to a meeting of my small book club where we discussed two of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books. It was an idyllic spring day, perfect for lazy Sunday-type pursuits. But I know it was to be among books, talking about them, breathing their moth-y smell, and discovering new old books, that made the day extra special. As readers and writers, you are probably familiar with this feeling for books, one fueled by a slightly myopic idealism. Though I don't think it's just idealism, but a recognition of the capacity of a book to be whatever we need: an escape, a how-to, or where we stumble upon someone else who has felt what we are feeling, and for that moment, we are not alone.
In other news, I have settled into a weekly cadence of writing and I am looking forward to connecting with more writers and readers. Sidenote: I often wonder if writers make good readers. Since starting work on my novel, I have noticed I read books differently, especially fiction. The magic of a writer's plot has become slightly translucent, and I am more aware of the spell as they cast it. This has made me steer away from novels. Most of the books I have read in the last few years have been nonfiction, mainly a bunch of books whose titles end with the word journey. I hope this is not a permanent change because I miss the oblivion a novel can bestow. But coming back to Substack, there was all the initial setting up to do and the thrill of receiving the first likes, comments, and subscriptions. I was excited to start the real work of writing and building community and audience but I am also unsure whether this growth will happen.
At the start of any venture, especially one not accompanied by an ironclad guarantee, we are almost always going to meet Uncertainty. I know that. We all know that. But knowing it does not make it any less overwhelming in the moment. We can’t help longing for quick progress over to the other side, in my case, a land with thousands of subscribers. Wouldn't it be great if we never had to deal with Uncertainty? But I’ve recently discovered that Uncertainty isn’t a scary abyss, a raging river, or the name of a giant dragon we have to fight. What if I told you that I now know for sure that Uncertainty is a small porcupine that has long made its home on the new path you have just started on? That it is a quiet animal that keeps to itself? What if I told you someone terrible must have started the rumor that porcupines shoot quills at people and apparently, it’s not true? That when left alone, Uncertainty the porcupine just wants to climb trees, and eat berries and tree bark.
Would you be okay with Uncertainty then?
I’d love to know what you think about new ventures, and how to balance the thrill with the fears. If you have any stories, advice, or suggestions about starts and stops and everything in between, I hope you’ll share them with me (in the Comments or via email: email@example.com). I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Have a great weekend! - Priya
PS: I’m on Notes and planning on using it to make new friends, discover more writers, and to share my photography. Hope you’ll say Hi there.
Notes is a new space on Substack for us to share links, short posts, quotes, photos, and more. I plan to use it for things that don’t fit in the newsletter, like work-in-progress or quick questions.