Five years since I last worked there, two years since it closed its doors for good, and I'm still having Booksmith dreams.
Usually it's the one where I want to close the store but I can't, because there are still customers browsing. There's probably some deeper meaning to that, something about unfinished business or things getting in the way of stuff I want to get done, but I never really stop to examine what's going on in my life when I have them.
Last night, though, it was about going back to work there. I was in the back room, and Pat was sitting at the supervisor's desk doing something. Laurie was standing on the stairs, or maybe she was over by the back door, receving books. Maybe both. I don't know. Dreams are fluid like that.
I stood there shooting the shit with Pat and pulled the schedule (a hand-drawn, photocopied grid on an old clipboard, which was suspended by a rubber band hanging on a nail) towards me. There were empty spots on it, places where I knew they needed someone else on the shift, and I said, very casually, "You want me to come in? I can."
That was it, really. Nothing exciting, just me offering to fill in some shifts, come in 6-9:30 some nights, or work Saturday mornings.
It's pretty obvious that I miss it a hell of a lot, but it's more than that, too. I seem to start feeling restless over the summers, like there's more I could and should be doing. I like my current job very much - good people, a place I know and a company that treats its employees well, customers I get along with. The only thing dragging me down is all the lost time - I leave my house at 7AM and don't get home until 6PM. That's an eleven hour day, and I only get paid for seven.
It's the kind of job where I could absolutely justify working from home two or even three days a week. Hell, I could argue for working full-time at home, but I'll admit it's helpful to be able to get up and walk over to the credit department, or our shipping person, or someone in customer service, and get an answer right away. I know that it won't happen; it's wishful thinking.
That desire to work from home, or closer to it, makes me start poking through the classifieds. There are a couple of small presses near where I live. Sadly, there are no indie bookstores close to home (until I open one...) Nothing, though, compelling enough for me to put in a resume.
Another thing that probably prompted the dream was that I am, finally, reading On Writing. Stephen King had short stories published before he was out of his teens. I'm fast approaching 30, with lots of things started, a couple things finished, and nothing submitted. Believe me, I am not wearing rose-colored glasses and thinking I could make a handy bit of pocket cash through writing. I know it doesn't work that way. You write for love of the craft, not for the piles of cash you might rake in if you get lucky. Same thing with bookselling - you don't do it because you're going to make millions.
But if I have to have a part-time job, it's going to either be in a bookstore or sitting my ass down and writing more.
Do I need a part-time job? No. We do all right for ourselves. It's simply something I toy with from time to time. Money is one of those worries always hanging out in the back of my head. What if...? What if...? What if...? My current job prevents me from working in a bookstore - it's considered a conflict of interest. And really, even if I could, where would I find the time? I know there are people who do it all the time, working 40 hours at one job and 20 at another, or working one job during the week and another on weekends. That's not something I'm willing to do right now.
Which leads me right back to writing more. My availability might suck for a retail position, but dedicating an hour or two a night to writing, that I can do. Plus, it's something immediately tangible: this is what I've done today, this is the progress I've made towards a goal. It's hard to measure my progress towards opening a bookstore in any sort of terms besides "Sent in monthly student loan/car payment." Writing - whether it gets published or not - feels like doing something.
Two different goals, but the rewards of one - the sense of accomplishment I get from writing - will help make the other seem more achievable.