Saturday, March 28, 2015

Starbucks Writers Colony

There are 2 kinds of Starbucks people: those who order a drink and stay, and those who order a drink and leave (I won't even include the freeloaders who walk in and stay and never order anything).

It seems like the most interesting people order and leave. But of the people who stay, a lot of them write during their time in the café, and I have to consider them part of the Starbucks Writers Colony.

I know there are few like me writing novels and stories. Some people I can see across from me are writing emails. That's all they do in Starbucks, just compose emails. That's their form of writing. Maybe I should write a novel composed entirely of email messages going back and forth--something like John Barth's novel Letters, but I imagine someone has done it already.


Some guy seems to be working on a patent. I see him on the USPTO website looking at the diagrams. He must have an idea for a new product and is filing his own application, or maybe checking patents for ideas to help him finish his idea, and to see what is already out there. Something like a novelist checking Dickens for ideas on characterization.

I hardly ever see anyone writing in longhand anymore--except at Starbucks. I know if I sit there long enough, someone will walk in, whip out a pen and notepad, and start writing. Happens all the time.

For some, their writing consists entirely of typing in the URLs of websites. And then they sit and read and click. The writing has ended.

I've seen a few that seem to be messaging someone back and forth, but not very often. I imagine I would see a lot more of it at a Starbucks near a school.



I see a good number of businessmen in the DC area working on their Powerpoint slide presentations.

Sometimes I can see the monitor of someone sitting in front of me and she is working on a school paper using Microsoft Word. I don't like to see other people's computer screens. I feel like I have enough to think about without getting involved in the lives of strangers.

When seeing someone else's monitor, the ones who worry me are the computer geeks watching strange graphs flow along their screen. Are they monitoring the wifi activity of the others around them? And can they see what others are typing?

It gives me a fuzzy sense of camaraderie to see another novel writer at Starbucks. Strength in numbers, I suppose. It never occurs to me to wonder what kind of book they might be writing, just that they are writing a book--any book.

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