I’m not much of a morning person, but I’m trying to learn.
For the past few weeks I’ve been getting up while it’s still dark, which I realize doesn’t mean much since the sun doesn’t rise until 7am. But it’s still a challenge. I can’t do it without getting all my coffee accoutrements–water in the kettle, french press clean– ready before I go to bed. It’s all worth it to have those extra hours in the morning. Most days I get four hours of writing done before noon.
My husband doesn’t usually drink coffee. He’s one of those few lucky/freakish individuals who wake up in the morning and are peppy and alert. Instead of a cup of coffee, he starts his day with qi gong exercises and meditation, while I try not to feel guilty about my own morning routine: blasting Beyonce and scrolling through Facebook while I drink coffee with cream. When we get on the orange line together at 6am, I have to remind him to be a little quieter, since most of the other passengers are still just waking up.
So I was pretty surprised when he texted me on his way home from work–
“Can we get cappuccinos?”
I looked at the clock. It read 6pm. Sure, it was Saturday night and we’d probably stay up late, but I keep a consistent schedule, waking up early even on the weekends, so I told him, “Maybe we should pass, we can get some in the morning.”
When we got up, I felt tired and crappy and he bounced out of bed, ready to try his first cappuccino.
Kyle explained that this sudden interest came from an earlier conversation with someone who described cappuccino in such a way that made it sound really appealing to him. Creamy? Rich? I’m not sure what words they had used to describe it, because when Kyle was recounting the conversation, I was still mulling over the fact that I married a person who never tried cappuccino.
It was a cold and sunny morning. In my pre-caffeinated stupor, it was taking me a long time to form my thoughts, but I wanted to update Kyle about what has been going on lately with my writing.
My writing is going incredibly well. I am rotating through some longer and shorter projects, spending my time reading novels books on craft, submitting work to literary journals, and discovering all the things that I had done wrong the first time I was writing full time. With hindsight and a little emotional distance, I can see the mistakes I made with my first book. Not saying that out of sadness or regret— I’m actually very excited that I noticed these things, because it means that I can learn from the past and do things better now.
But, I’ve run into a new, unexpected challenge. Without a single, particular book that I am pitching into the market, I have been going to networking events empty-handed. I’ve never really had a problem introducing myself to strangers, a skill that I attribute to my upbringing at a martial arts school, where I would strike up conversations with any of the students, and often had to teach people who were older, and presumably wiser, than me.
Despite feeling so positive about my work, I end up sounding defeated when I tell people, “I wrote a memoir and tried traditional publishing, but now I’m trying the indie route. I have a couple projects that I’m working on now.”
I need to find and practice a new elevator pitch, and I wanted to talk to Kyle about it. But, I was an un-caffeinated derp that could barely put my words together before we got inside the cafe. Inside, we were the only customers, and we interrupted the baristas’ conversation as we placed our order. I got my usual iced coffee, and Kyle ordered his first cappuccino. As we waited for our drinks, the baristas resumed their conversation. It sounded interesting, so I asked them what they were talking about.
“We were just talking about what it was going to take to get our generation to start a revolution.”
This has been my other mental quandary. My current drafts are honest pieces about people living their lives, but what I really want to write is something epic. Not “Lord Of The Rings” epic. I want to write something that other people my age will read and will light a fire under our asses to rise up and make change that we desperately need.
Because, if you haven’t noticed, we’re heading in a pretty terrible direction. I care about a lot of issues, but the one that concerns me the most is climate change. We have been ravaging our planet, and the projections for our future look bleak. It’s not our parents, the Baby Boomers, that are going to have to deal with challenges like drought, food shortages, and mass migration from coastal regions. It’s our generation’s problem, and if we have them, our children’s.
One barista had a theory: we need a new music revolution.
I told him, “Well, if you can figure something out that should be put in a book, let me know. I’ve been trying to figure out what to write that will help.”
He said, “You just have to do what you feel is right. You make the art that you believe in, say what you gotta say, and put good vibes out there.”
His comment was so simple, and something that I already knew, but it’s so easy to forget. Despite all the time I spend writing and thinking about craft and studying strategies for publication, I need to remind myself of why I started writing in the first place. I write for a lot of reasons, but mainly because I’m one of those crazy people that believes that there isn’t necessarily an explanation for everything, but everything happens for a reason.
What if Kyle had picked up the coffee, without me, so I could sleep in a bit more? What if Kyle and I had those cappuccinos as he originally suggested last night? Or, what if it had just been like any other day, with Kyle being a non-coffee drinker, unfazed and disinterested in someone’s description of cappuccino? I wouldn’t have stumbled into their conversation and wouldn’t have found the missing piece of my current writing life. The timing was just right.
You can call them coincidences. But I believe they are more. And they are all around us, they give our lives meaning, and make for some really wonderful stories.