National Terrible Unfinished Novel-Writing Month: Day 5

Writing is a solitary, lonely business and it’s vitally important to go out and be seen writing your novel, just so that as many people as possible realize how solitary and lonely the whole process is.

I took my MacBook to Starbucks to make a good show of writing my novel. Alas, I found that all of the tables and comfortable seats were already occupied by other poseur novel-writers. So I bought a big cookie and a bottle of weird soda to go.

And happily, the trip wasn’t an entire waste. First off, I was able to get my entire daily intake of saturated fats out of the way with a single $8 Butter Snickers Bar Fudge Cracked-Grain Cookie. What a time-saver!

But the truly Big Win of my visit to Starbucks came when I looked around the store while waiting in line. I picked up tons of great tips on how to appear to be struggling with a novel.

I focused on this one lady in particular, who was sitting next to a display of thermal mugs right in the middle of a high-traffic area. What a pro! I got the impression that this wasn’t the first novel that she was writing purely for show.

She moved her lips while making talky gestures with alternate hands, as though she was sounding out a dialogue scene between two characters.

She would close the lid to her laptop slowly and methodically, and then furiously start scribbling handwritten notes on every available scrap of paper; ie, the next scene had such a lyric and organic quality that writing it on a computer seemed vulgar.

Oh, but the true, killer move: she would scrunch up her face from time to time and then do a weird Wikipedia search.

I wouldn’t even have known what she was up to, except every now and then she would turn her screen around so that everyone could see that she was boning up on Welsh folklore, Egyptian embalming oils, the bus schedules of Sacramento, California in the Mid-Seventies…it was quite a run. And she performed that screen-twist in such a natural and casual fashion that I totally believed that she was just moving her laptop aside so that she could make room on her little table for whatever she’d just pulled out of her purse.

She even added frosting to the cupcake by “catching” me glancing at her screen! She shot me this look that said “How dare you observe my Process! I know that I tend to zone out when my Muse overtakes me and I’m immersed in The Gift, but still…you non-novel-writing chaps shouldn’t take advantage! This is my soul you’re peeking at!”

I mean, that was polished, man. She must have workshopped it at Dunkin’ Donuts or something before showcasing it on the big stage.

I suddenly felt so inadequate. Even my usual go-to Starbucks move (the classic “raising a beverage to my lips and then slowly returning it to the table unsipped as I distractedly ‘make another edit’ with my free hand”) seemed cheap and vaudevillian move by comparison.

Maybe I’m just not ready to pretend to write a novel in Starbucks.

Day 5. Words written: 0.

1 thought on “National Terrible Unfinished Novel-Writing Month: Day 5

  1. Kevan

    Haha, I love love love these posts. I think I have seen that lady’s twin sister in my local coffee tinged watering hole. Why is it that people associate obscure knowledge with sophistication?

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