Sunday, July 27, 2014

What drives you?

I've been giving this question a lot of thought lately. What drives me? I think about all the things in my life "drive" touches -- drive, meaning ambition, motivation. I would definitely like to move up and get a chance to do something different, take more responsibility, get to be more creative and have that pay my rent and put food on my table. I actually hope to be well on my way into getting my MLS next year, and maybe even be working in a different positon. I like where I work -- two suburban libraries, one award-winning for its outstanding resources and the other nestled snugly in the heart of a college town's downtown. But admittedly, I've grown tired of telling people that I'm a shelver. I can't imagine what they think, but I feel like -- on paper -- it just looks like all I have the skills to do is put things in alphanumerical order, which doesn't account for all the knowledge about libraries that I've gained having worked in them for nearly 9 years. 

Or to patrons, I might say that I am "just a shelver" -- to explain why I can't help them with everything, though I want to. Wish I could. But I have to do this other thing, the thing I get paid for. Which is lovely, in its way: placing the books back in order. Reading their spines and covers from time to time.

As for what drives me, I will say that this does -- writing, reading, literacy and the idea of libraries as this growing cultural hub that can bring people together. I always wanted to be a writer and I still do -- I've written novels, so far unpublished, that are in the editing process and I blog when I can. But I know that my motivation and discipline waxes and wanes and I am someone who needs that "day job" to supplement a writing career; in 2006, when I started as a shelver in Skokie, I started to feel like I'd found what I wanted to do besides writing. Getting to chat with patrons about what books they like and help them find things always feels great, and I think I would eventually like to be the person who comes into more rural libraries and makes them a little more...hip, I guess? Skokie has all these resources and has lectures, movie nights, computer classes -- things that I know it might take a bigger budget to do, but I'd like to help rural libraries get grants and more resources and find creative ways to bring people together for open, safe discussions of everything from books and movies to politics and the job market. But I don't entirely know how to get from point A, life as a library shelver, to point B, life as a super-librarian, able to smash through research roadblocks in a single bound.

And then there's that other nagging thought: that the thing that drives me doesn't drive me enough? Because what really drives me is this desire to write. Really write -- like, always. Give in to my characters and let them lead their lives to the detriment of mine. But I feel like I would be so happy: sitting in coffee shops, staring out as clouds turn to rain turn back to clear blue skies, or sitting in sunny kitchens from dawn to dusk and just leading this nice, literary life. I remember when I had that, briefly, before I left the home of my parents, before I went to college, before I got a job or two, before I surrounded myself with a bustling city. Is this what is meant by a mid-life crisis? Because I have been flashing back more and more to the warm, outstretched hand of the first summer after high school and all the times I walked down Yellowhammer Road, deep in thought, inhaling the green, fresh-mowed grass, the scent of rain in the air and the fragrance of honeysuckle. The times I woke early - yes, me! The perpetual night owl! - and drank coffee while I wrote for hours and hours, then took a break to read, then went back to writing. I'd forget to eat! I'd forget everything else until finally, my stomach would be nearly deafening with its growls and I would have to step away, find a breaking off point. But then I would be in a haze of thinking about my story until I could get back to it. I miss being in the country, believe it or not, though I would miss the city, too, if I were away from it. I think I miss the quiet, and the feeling of so much time and potential ahead of me. Maybe I am looking for a balance: the quiet, natural surroundings and the time mixed with the pulsing energy of the city with all its unpredictability. I'm taking advice on how to accomplish this. 

Tell me. I'm open.

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