Do “Real” Writers Write in Cafes?

Posted by on Mar 28, 2008 in Writing | 2 comments

grandcentral1.jpgI’ve received many a comment from friends about the time I spend in cafes. This blog is practically a tour of Portland’s coffee scene. I cop to it: Ever since my student days at Berkeley, I’ve loved a good coffee house. In fact, I started the habit back in high school when I was into concocting moody, hormone-laden poetry.

I had occasion to ponder the titular question because this week I re-discovered a cafe that could replace Kodi’s (this post): Grand Central Bakery, a local spot that’s been around forever, but that I’ve ignored for over a decade. I remembered strolling there on Sunday mornings with my then-boyfriend; I remembered it as over-crowded and small. I associated it with a particular era in my life, but now I’m glad to say that they rehabbed the space: expanded into a southern-exposed space. Very good for loitering.

grandcentral2.jpgI even made a new friend (Liz, if you’re reading this!). We bonded over our mutually cool eyewear and talked about collaging. AND I wrote four decent first-draft pages.

But, back to the question: Do “real” writers write in cafes? At a writers conference awhile back a novelist-instructor made a disparaging comment to the tune of NO. As if coffee houses only attracted dilettantes and amateurs and poseurs. However, I say that any trick that helps you get words on the page is legitimate.

What seems impossible for one writer is another’s perfect modus operandi. For example, Stephen King blasts heavy metal music. Susan Wiggs writes in long-hand. Bob Mayer writes in collaboration with Jennifer Crucie. Another novelist (can’t remember who, unfortunately) wrote his first novel on the commuter train to and from work. And how many Mom-novelists have you read about who get up at 5:00 a.m. or who write in bitty increments throughout the day as they get the chance?

grandcentral3.jpgAll those methods seem impossible to me, but sit me down in a coffee house where I can woolgather while people-watching and somehow my synapses start firing. Besides, everyone knows that J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter in a coffee house. And look how that turned out!

2 Comments

  1. I agree with you: any place you can actually get words onto the page is legitimate, and that’s probably different for everyone. It’s incredibly narrow-minded of that novelist-instructor to discount cafes so out of hand.

    This sort of brings up another point: I think seminars and workshops for any creative endeavor are great as long as they help stimulate your creativity, but as soon as they start laying down hard and fast rules they lose their value. After all, art is subjective, and so are the many ways used to create art.

  2. I agree with what you say about seminars and workshops. I know I’ve inadvertently gotten sucked into the group-think: I’m supposed to do such-and-such this way or, uh-oh, I must be doing such-and-such wrong. I’d end up depressed instead of stimulated. Great use of my money!

    FYI: Didn’t get any writing in today — I’m still recovering from the wedding! Needed one more lazy-day, so this week I’ll be working a Tuesday thru Saturday work schedule.

    Catch you later! Lisa

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