I have learned a valuable writing lesson today. Perhaps the most important lesson of my writing career thus far. A lesson so important no writer can go without this advice.
DO NOT SPILL COFFEE ON YOUR LAPTOP!
I realize this sounds simple. But today’s standard laptop does not handle a Grande coffee poured over the keyboard very well. In fact, computers will short out and shut down when in contact with extreme amounts of hot coffee. The local Starbucks barista will come and clean off the table but they will not help you restore your hard drive or rewrite your current story.
I know you are asking yourself, “How could a writer be so careless with his stories?” Perhaps this is why I am still unpublished. I wonder if Jane Austin ever lost a story to coffee?
As unorthodox as it may be, a local coffee shop has always been my writing desk. I like to tell myself that it has something to do with the energy and excitement of all the people coming and going. I’m attracted by the soft music and gentle lights. But in reality, I write at Starbucks because I am not disciplined enough to write at home.
There are too many distractions at home. The phone is ringing, the television is calling, the refrigerator is tempting, the honey-do list staring. I have always found getting out of the house the better option. It allows me to focus on the task of writing.
But, perhaps that is why I am the king of slush piles. How many famous writers have to leave the house and go to a coffee shop to get work done? I did some research and found exactly zero. I did a Google search for “author’s writing places” and saw Janet Evanovich’s nice organized writing desk in a little nook of her house (no coffee on her desk). I viewed the big wooden desks of Charles Dickens and JRR Tolkien. The closest I came to a coffee shop was Andrew Clements who writes in a remade shed in his backyard. I found no one who writes at a Starbucks with a Venti Caramel Macchiato looming dangerously nearby.
I did however discover some exciting facts. I read that Gustave Flaubert kept his lover’s slippers and mittens in his writing desk. My wife, however, refused to give me any articles of her clothing for good luck. I also read that John Clever wore a suit to his writing studio whereupon he removed his clothing, hung it on the door and proceeded to write in his underwear. I do believe if I tried this at Starbucks I would most likely be writing my next column from behind bars.
Determined to change my misfortune, I announced to my wife that I needed a place within our home in which to write. No more Starbucks for me. She reminded me that all of the rooms of our house were currently being used for things such as sleeping, eating, and bathing. She also, not so politely I may add, reminded me that I no longer had a computer upon which to write.
Oh, the life of the unpublished. Nowhere to write and nothing to write upon. I believe these to be two key ingredients to writing success and I have neither. Would Babe Ruth have been able to hit home runs without a baseball bat? Let’s see Picasso work without paint. Yet, that is exactly where I find myself in my writing career.
Career? How dare I be so bold! A career must actually bring in some money. Writing is a mere hobby. My wife reminded me recently as we filled out our taxes that she made twenty dollars playing her French horn at a nursing home and that outdistanced my gross writing income for the year by twenty dollars.
I didn’t want to mention that if we take out all the coffee I have consumed over the year, the price of paper and toner, and now the cost of a new laptop, I am actually in negative numbers. Perhaps, I will take to drinking. It seemed to work for Ernest Hemingway.