Writer dare or truth


I have the pleasure of teaching a creative writing class at my school, and every day I’m thankful, so thankful, I get to follow my passion, my creativity. Sometimes, like tonight, I deliberately do the same assignment I give my students.

We’re working out of Julia Cameron’s book The Right to Write. During one of her Initiation Exercises, she asks the readers to complete the following sentence ten times.

A writer is _______.

Cameron then asks the reader to follow up with an explanation, a positive spin to what some writers could have initially considered to be a negative.

For example, one person might say, “A writer is broke.” An optimistic outlook would point out that the writer spends her money on conference fees and ink cartridges so that there’s no money left over for those delectable, calorie-laden pastries, available wherever $5 cups of coffee are sold, pastries like scones and cupcakes and pumpkin bread and donuts that add to the waistline and deplete the wallet.

I’m taking the challenge, but with a twist. I’m calling it Truth or Dare, the (unpublished, totally unknown) Writer Truth or Dare, only backwards.

A writer dares to be adventurous.

THE TRUTH: The unpublished, totally unknown, downright desperate writer’s idea of adventure is going to a workshop by herself for the first time. She walks into a large convention room for the opening mixer and picks up a fancy dessert and drink and sits down at a table with a group of people who have been congregating at this particular conference for the last decade. These people are so excited to see one another again that they don’t notice the outsider, that is, until she gets up to leave. Then the other people at the table assume she is part of the help, and they hand her their dirty dishes.

A writer dares to write 1,500 words a day, no excuses.

THE TRUTH: The unpublished, totally unknown, downright desperate writer writes 1,500 words a day…and then erases them one by one even though she has been taught to write first, edit later. It’s not easy being a perfectionist. Has anybody other than God ever gotten it right the first time?

A writer dares to take on every interview, every guest blog, every question to promote her book.

THE TRUTH: The unpublished, totally unknown, downright desperate writer sits down with her favorite group of busybodies and prepares to answer their questions and to listen to their free advice:

“Your Johnny told my Johnny that he had to eat another supper out of a fast food bag last night. In my house, we consider missing a deadline if we’re all not sitting down at the dinner table at five. Just what do you consider a priority at your house? Maybe you should put away your little hobby for a little while and focus on what really matters.”

(Never mind that she has worked all day at a full time job, delivered all the children to their dance lessons, football practices, and scout meetings on time, and saved up enough extra cash to treat the kids once a month to their favorite happy meal so she can finish another chapter.)

A writer dares to write every opportunity she gets.

THE TRUTH: The unpublished, totally unknown, downright desperate writer will wash the dishes, wash the laundry, wash the car, and wash the dog before she writes one word because she is afraid that one word will be the wrong word. She will also sweep, dust, and mop. And, yes, she will do windows if it means she can procrastinate twenty more minutes.

A writer dares to flaunt her glamorous writing lifestyle, which may or may not include sharing a cup of coffee with Jan Karon, Karen Kingsbury, or Kaye Dacus.

THE TRUTH: The unpublished, totally unknown, downright desperate writer dares to flaunt even the most pathetic detail of her “glamorous” writing lifestyle, especially after she has attended a big writer’s conference:

“I just made my first elevator pitch!”

“No, it wasn’t with an agent…it was with Terri Blackstock’s housekeeper.”

“What? How do I know that was her housekeeper? I was watching her room to see if I could catch a glimpse of Terri Blackstock.”

“No, I do not consider that stalking. I call it research and investigation. Anyway, I think the housekeeper liked it. She smiled a lot…before she ran out the door.”

Creative escapes–The Brew

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?  ~  J. B. Priestley

Owner Rebecca Magierski and DJ Tim Franks welcome you to The Brew.

There is nothing quite like the first snowfall of the season, especially when it happens on or near Christmas. Almost quite as nice is the first snowfall that sends children and teachers on their first break from school. There’s plenty of reading, writing, sledding, and Facebooking to be done on these legitimate days of leisure when we teachers and students can thumb our noses at our lessons and not get detention—or fired.

But after a few days of the white stuff, our infatuation fades away, and we long for what we Southerners were made for—t-shirts, flip flops, sunny skies, and water, H20, in its liquid form, definitely not the frozen stuff.

Sorry, folks. It’s still January. You’ll have to resort to Plan B for your creative escape. But I have an idea.

If you can brave the ice and the cold and make it to our town square, you’ll find a nifty little coffee shop that provides just the right amount of buzz—be it caffeine, creativity, or fun.

I’m talking about The Brew. It’s easy to find with plenty of free parking. Look for it next to The Saturday Independent and across from the Manchester Arts Center.

My students were the first to introduce me. “You’ve GOT to go,” they said. “This place is all YOU.”

They were right. It’s cozy. It’s quaint. And it’s quirky. I love it. Where else can you find DJ Tim Franks teaching line dancing on a Saturday night? Did I mention that there’s no cover charge—even when live music is in the house?

I’m an acoustic junkie. I can listen for hours. Hook me up with a night of music at the Blue Bird Café, and I’ll be your friend for life. The Listening Room in Nashville is also a great venue.

But Nashville is over an hour away. The Brew is just around the corner.

Songwriters Bard Fisher and James Bell perform at Brew's Alley.

I can tell you this. In the last month I’ve had the pleasure of hearing James Bell, Bard Fischer, and Stephenson Road. I’m hoping to catch Fairweather Friends soon. I’ve heard hundreds of top-rate musicians in my life time. These artists found on the Brew’s Alley stage rival many of those found on the Nashville stages.

Don't miss Stephenson Road's next performance at Brew's Alley.

Another reason why I’m keen on The Brew is that it is FAMILY oriented. All ages, young and old, are welcome. That means I won’t feel like some out of place fuddy duddy, and my eleven-year-old son won’t be carded at the door.

I hear Trivia and Karaoke nights pack the house. I’ll have to check them out.

So, yeah, there’s quite the buzz about the quality of entertainment and fun here, but let me tell you about the buzz I enjoy—COFFEE!

Call me a little frou-frou. I can take my coffee black if need be, but when I’m at The Brew I prefer coffee with my chocolate. That’s right. I like mochas. But Mr. Barista himself, Rance Solomon, will prepare your drink the way you like it. It’s delicious local fair trade coffee.

Like many of you, I’m trying to purge myself of this winter weight gain, so I go with skim milk and no whip topping. Hey, chocolate’s supposed to be good for you, right? If you ask me, my little coffee concoction is just the right health food. It satisfies my emotional needs.

The Brew is a coffee shop, not a café, and that’s the way Rebecca intended it. If your appetite is a little more than a drink but not quite a full meal, check out the pastries, the sandwiches, or the soups. As I said before, I’m watching my calorie intake, but should I decide to celebrate my success, I might be tempted to sneak a nibble of one of the delectable brownies.

I am a writer, and when I look for a creative escape, the key word for me is CREATIVE. I ventured out on one of our snow days—yes, it was an adventure. I almost slid into a ditch trying to get there, but thanks to a friendly driver who came along, took my keys, and drove my car up our ice-covered hill, I was able to make it, lap top unharmed.

I found a little table with a lamp and sat down to write. Creativity surrounded me, from the drawings on the wall to the hand-crafted pottery on the tables. And DJ Tim was on hand to loan me some head phones so that I could listen to music online via the FREE Internet access. (And thanks for introducing me to blues artist Gary Moore, Tim. Very cool.)

As I paid for my drink, I noticed another touch of local flavor. More music. Just to the right of the cash register is a basket of CDs, featuring homegrown talents, Trapper Haskins and the Bitter Swill, James Bell, Riley Jackson, and more.  

Call me anytime. I’ll be glad to meet you at The Brew.

All of your "Java Dreams" come true at The Brew.