Coffee, cake, and conversation: Is Writing a Process?

“What do you want?”
“Just coffee. Black – like my soul.”
-Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

black and sweet
black and sweet

Thank you for joining me this morning for coffee. Cake? Don’t you think it is a little early for baked goods? Yes, I know I did say there would be cake. Let’s start with the coffee and work up to it, hmm? I just woke up. I have a few things on my mind this morning, mostly to do with writing, with contemplation and meditation. The why’s and how’s and where for’s. First the coffee.

There is something about sharing a cuppa, whether it be coffee, tea or chocolate, that really lends itself, well, to sharing. There is a community about it with so many cultures. Here is a scene from Casablanca. Ilsa and Victor are at the Blue parrot with Ferrari. They share an iced Turkish coffee while discussing travel plans.

Iced Coffee
Iced coffee at the Blue Parrot

Coffee time can also be quiet time. I often sit alone when the house is asleep. I have several notepads I scribble on, or I type, depending on my mood. I also keep paper next to me when I sleep, just in case I think of something to write first thing in the morning. Or 2 a.m. Or 3:30. Sometimes it is no more than a concept, or a few sentences.

Some speak of writing’s process. The answer to what someone’s writing process is can be as individual as fingerprints or snowflakes. Sometimes it is not filled with outlines and themes, prompts and contests. Often there are no lines on the page. There are times when writing is more like a big screaming shout, trying to get out all of the thoughts and feelings clogging up our guts.

I know several writer types online who plop themselves happily down in a chair at Starbucks or some other coffee shop and that is where they feel inspired. That is where they get the great chapters for their novels. I have tried, and I have scribbled some out there in public places if I should get a notion in my head. But I can’t imagine hours of clanging dishes and tinkling spoons in cups, with constant conversation. I would have to be a great deal more disciplined than I am. I am too interested in watching people.

I’ve been writing since I was a child, but not until these past 5 years did I write daily. I started out using gimmicks to get me to write every day. but something changed for me finally. One day I realized that I wanted to write every day. I had to write. No gimmicks, no tricks. I don’t feel right if I am not creating something. That was such a relief.

Someone asked about where I write. I have my PC which is out in the open because we have a small place. I also have a comfy leather chair I sink into when I am inclined to lounge. The sun in the afternoon hits my book or notebook when I sit there, and there is a small ottoman for my feet. Sometimes I think of something when I am out. I have everything paper in my purse with scribbles on it, from a bank withdrawal slip to an envelope, from a napkin to a church bulletin. The only thing I have not written on is my own skin. But I wouldn’t rule that out.

Here is another wonderful place where I’ve scribbled often:

Chicago Botanic Garden- English walled garden
Chicago Botanic Garden- English walled garden

I’ve been going here for about 35 years. Sometimes I walk and walk and other times I find a shady corner and write. At times I just watch the people. Recently I  have started engaging someone in conversation if they are near and catch my eye.

I’m a simple woman with simple tastes. I suppose there is a complex part of me that wants more, but I think that is true of almost everyone, dreams that we have not tapped. But I like being home and I like doing simple, homey things. I started out this way, then I got wild for awhile, and then I came home again. Age mellows and excites us at the same time. We get more relaxed about some things. But other things we want more. We understand that time is not on our side and if we want to cross off a precious line of our to-do list, we better start doing that right now.

But for today, for this morning, I am comfortable here at my keyboard, reading poets and writing my own words, sipping my black elixir and dreaming about cake to go next to it. Maybe next cuppa. Or perhaps I’ll put a nice coffee cake in the oven between chapters, with a crunchy streusel on top.

Borrowed from Pinterest for kicks and giggles
Borrowed from Pinterest for kicks and giggles



2 thoughts on “Coffee, cake, and conversation: Is Writing a Process?

  1. Rose, I appreciate your writing about your writing. About where you write and what gets you going. And your having felt the urge to write since childhood. Until recently I saw or experienced something and a first line came to mind. I wrote it down on a scrap of paper and the rest flowed. My writing is at a standstill now because my thoughts are on my sons, two of whom have serious struggles going on. I don’t want to put them in the public eye. As a result my writing self has dried up. I don’t see poetry in everyday life to explore. I guess muses and inspiration that ebb and flow are a natural part of a writer’s life. Best wishes to you in your period of reconstruction.


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