Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

(First in my reports of the 2018 San Diego Comic-con.)

Apparently, the entire city of San Diego had been bad, and sent to bed without dessert.

That, at least, was the lesson I learned Thursday night of Comic-con. After a half-day at the con, we were already tired. We had dinner, and I had been promised dessert as a reward for doing all the driving that morning. Given the choice of venue, I decided we should venture out and sample a dessert and coffee at one of the many fine dining establishments downtown San Diego has to offer. (Note to the host of people out there awaiting their chance to take me to dinner, do not let me choose where to go.)

Unfortunately, most of those fine dining establishments, as it happens, are bars. Although they feature excellent cuisine, they are not the kind of place you simply plop yourself down and order a cup of coffee and a piece of pie. No, we were seeking a (wait, I know there used to be a name for them), coffee shop. You know, the sort of little diner where the waitress calls you “hon.” (I know they exist; I went to one once. The waitress literally called me “hon.” I had been having a bad week; it was exactly what I needed.)

Anyway, we gamely trooped into town, finding it easy enough because the crowds hadn’t descended yet. Nothing. Then the light shone forth: a Du-Par’s! Perfect.

It closed a month ago.

We asked around; no one had any idea where we could find what we wanted. At one of the hotels, the staff recommended a nearby vendor with homemade ice cream. Promising… Turns it it was a small shop which, while it normally offered seating, had taken out its seating for Comic-Con. We pledged to return at a more opportune moment (and we did, with friends, and the ice cream was fabulous). But it wasn’t what we wanted then.

By this time, it was after eight. The Better Half suggested we should return to our hotel, on the theory that she had seen a Denny’s within walking distance of there. This gave us the option to repair to our room and call it a night, or hike the short distance to Denny’s and grab some joe and pie. Seizing upon this as a capital idea, I agreed, so we boarded our shuttle, rode to our hotel, and determined that, despite the darkness, the stroll to our local eatery was feasible and safe from a traffic perspective.

We were worried about getting there! Silly us.

First problem: Everyone in our neighborhood decided that 9:00 pm was the perfect time to take the family to Denny’s. I mean, it was standing room only. Twenty-minute wait.

Second problem: We were in the Twilight Zone. Between the five-year-olds planning Armageddon on their cell phones, and the woman whose shoes and stockings looked like something worn by the Wicked Witch of the West, in addition to the normal Comic-con attendees, this was an odd crowd. We should have taken it as a sign. Or at least taken the opportunity to look at a menu.

Because, you see, after an hour of walking around, several false alarms, a bus trip, and a walk through the dark (past what turned out to be the local cannabis retailer), I had to read the menu three times before I could bring myself to believe that Denny’s does not serve dessert.

There was no pie. There was no ice cream. (Well, there was, technically, but “the machine is broken.” The “machine”?) The menu actually suggested, if one wanted dessert, to try one of their fancy pancakes. Which I did, with mixed results. At least there was coffee.

So that was our first night. In common with many of our interactions at Comic-con, we learned a valuable lesson, the first of those which I am going to share with you:

Life is uncertain; eat dessert first. Just not at Denny’s.




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Although I have famously said about ideas, “It’s not where they come from that matters. It’s where they go,” this has inexplicably failed to stem the tide of people asking authors, “Where do your ideas come from?” (I know, I can’t explain it either.) Normally, I would avoid this subject, or simply admit that no one really knows, but…

Ideas come from the oddest places. Sometimes they are not even fully-formed ideas, but simply notions that come to mind and are written down, possibly to be re-examined and combined with other notions that together compile an idea. Case in point: The other morning I woke up and said to my wife, “There are no baristas in Hell.”

Being far too experienced to be fazed by anything I say, particularly first thing in the morning, she simply replied: “That means you can’t get a latte.” Which, as need not be said, is pretty much the definition of Hell in a nutshell.

Interestingly, I took the phrase to mean that baristas (like nurses) are too good to go to Hell. She took it to mean that there’s no way to get a good coffee drink there (although she said she could easily see my point, as baristas are paragons of patience). Both are valid interpretations, and either may be useful someday, whether alone or combined.

I believe there are two conclusions to be drawn here: One, ideas come, often as not, from your subconscious, which explains why no one can answer the question. And two, it is more important where they go, because two people can take the same notion and drag it into two completely directions. This is why Shakespeare was able to steal so many ideas and make them work. This why all of us emulate Shakespeare, at least in this one respect.

Where will this notion go? Will it go anywhere at all? Beats me, all I know is this:

There are no good story ideas in Hell.

Run with it.



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Home Alone

A friend passed me this article about work-at-home employees, and how they work just as hard (if not harder) than in-office personnel. As writers are often work-at-home, this struck a chord, because a lot of writers are not work-at-home, they are work-at-Starbucks, or the library. Some even rent offices(!).

The article found that if you work for someone else, it can be more productive to be away from the office part of the time. It relieves you of many of the distractions inherent in a shared work environment. But we writers, we (usually) work for ourselves. And I have heard from many of my colleagues that they have to squeeze in writing between child care, dog-walking, laundry, shoveling snow, or a thousand other concerns that, apparently, do not apply if you work at home for someone else. Why this is so, is beyond me.

Disregarding such things, though (I, for one, have none of those distractions and have mercilessly eliminated others–but I still have TV), writing at home is oftimes less productive than one would want. Would writers, conversely, work better in an office environment?

I shudder at the mere suggestion. I have found, on occasion, that working from the local coffee establishment is surprisingly easy–probably because so many others are doing the same thing–but I prefer to work at home. (The coffee’s cheaper and there’s no lock on the bathroom.)  And yet, the idea of treating your home-writing as a business project is not only desirable, it is essential if you want any sort of success. And by “success,” I mean finishing what you start.

Regardless of whether you want to sell, you need to treat writing as a job: Work regularly, work diligently, complete tasks. Even though we are our own bosses in terms of hours and choice of projects, our readers will give us our employee evaluations, and we have little to no control over our compensation. We’re really more independent contractors than anything. But we know that, more than anything, we have freedom.

Which is why, when we shiver in our unheated garrets, creating worlds that moments ago existed only in our fevered brains, we think of those numberless drones in those featureless cubicles, and we think:

“I wonder if the company supplies coffee in their break rooms?”


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