Lillith Black

Exploring life through writing

Writing, there is no other way to be

Books and my family have an affair that’s been going on for over two centuries. My great-great-grandfather owned a book store and was a book doctor. He would sell and lend books, but most importantly would give ‘sick’ books new life. Books weren’t mass produced back then the way they are today. Books were read many times over by many people, causing them to deteriorate and fall apart. Books were not thrown away but carefully brought to my great-great-grandfather to be treated for the serious cases of losing one’s spine, covers, and generally falling into pieces. He clued them together, gave them new spines and covers, with the titles freshly embossed in gold.

My great-grandfather owned a book store where my grandma grew up, reading all the books she wanted. When she got to a working age, she became, naturally, a librarian. As a baby, my mom grew up among the book shelves at that library as my grandma couldn’t afford a babysitter at that WWII time.

Reading was revered and encouraged in our house and I grew up remembering my family passing on TV in favor of reading. In the evenings and during the weekends you could find everyone relaxing in their favorite spots of the house, book in hand. Books adored the walls in every room and a birthday gift consisting of a single book was all I have ever wanted.

Books were always treated with the greatest respect. There was no bending or cracking of the spine allowed, no folding of the pages or, god forbid, writing on the margins. This is instilled in me to this day. In college I couldn’t bring myself to highlight the pages and getting used books from the student bookstore was painful as I would use the books rigorously abused by the previous reader. If you could look at the books in my house, you would think I just bought them as they are in a pristine condition.

I began to read when I was three years old and the teachers at my kindergarten quickly took an advantage of it by making me read stories to other kids. By the age of six I read in two languages and was gobbling up books at an incredible speed. I loved reading while I was eating, while I was watching TV and while I was supposed to be asleep. I loved re-reading books; like old friends they brought me comfort and I always managed to discover something I haven’t noticed in them before. My grandma was always on my case for reading same books ten times instead of reading new ones, but I kept with my old habit.

Since I have read for as long as I remember myself, my head has always been full of stories and, as no surprise, the desire to write was always inside of me. There were all these stories I wanted to tell, but didn’t. I still have my notebooks with the fantastical adventures that I wrote in high school, unfinished, destined to always stay that way. Reading the great works of my favorite authors like Arthur Conan Doyle and Isaac Asimov, I thought of myself as being unworthy of standing in their company. I could only look up at them as gods and bathe in their sunlight.

It took me many years of being sidetracked by the events of my life and self-searching to finally realize that writing is not a competition. At least not for me. I’m not trying to be better or at least as good as the great writers. I’m just trying to be me. I write the way only I can write, I write to get the stories onto the paper. If someone out there happens to like what I write, I’ll be the happiest person on Earth. I will also be happy when I finish my novel, when I have it completed and in my hands (or my laptop). I feel that when that happens, my ancestors will smile at me from wherever they are, proud of me continuing the family legacy in my own way.

What is your book legacy?

 

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2 Replies

  1. What a wonderful post and family history 🙂 I’m the first in my family to show any interest in writing, and I’ve felt destined to it my whole life. They are all terribly supportive though 🙂

    1. Thank you for the kind words! I believe if there is a writer’s bug in you, it will reveal itself sooner or later. I am glad you are doing what you love.
      🙂
      Have a wonderful day!
      LB