Just call me "the chai guy."
That's the nickname given to me by some members of the Borders Books
and Music staff, for obvious reasons. But I guess that's going to
happen when you order the same drink (medium hot chai to go*) for two
years straight, and stay in the cafe for 5 hours reading and reading
and reading and making notes, notes, notes. At first I felt guilty,
coming up to read for free instead of buying the book or magazine. But
I spend at least $30 a month there, and at least that much per month on
those chais and other cafe items, so I'm doing my part for their
bottomline and the American economy in general. But I've been ordering
hot chocolates recently, just to show them that, hey, I can be as
unpredictable as the next guy.** There's also been a certain nip in the
air, that lack of humidity, that crispness that embraces fall, and the
ole hot chocolate just seems like the right thing to do, as Wilford
Brimley would say.
I see all the regulars here, and see many people dragging in
their laptops to write their college essay on Voltaire, or finish up
that monthly business report on the Johnson merger, or finish up the
latest chapter on their novels (I think Gallup just did a poll that
revealed that currently, every single person over the age of 18, and a
handful under, is writing a novel). But it all seems so…wrong. It's
one thing to sit here and write in your angsty journal or make notes or
doodle, all of which are fine, but if you're coming in here to write
your novel? Big mistake. You're not a writer, you're someone who
mistakes the job of writing with the hobby of writing. You can't write
novels or anything else seriously with people talking all around you,
the cappuccino machine making a noise that breaks the sound barrier,
and a dozen other distractions that surround you at Borders (not to
single them out, it's the same for Barnes and Noble, or Starbucks, or
your local spot). If you were truly writing a novel, you'd be locked in
your office or room, typing away at the computer or typewriter or
writing on a notepad, alone and frustrated, maybe listening to
something on the stereo. Sure, bookstore cafes give you that
intoxicating atmosphere of literature and writing: all those books,
people talking about books, the smell of books, the people around you
writing and typing and turning pages. Even the music (usually jazz or
folk or standards) that falls down from the speakers up above gets you
in the mood. But it's all an illusion. That atmosphere doesn't help
your writing, and it certainly isn't the right atmosphere in which to
This totally unexpected, completely unasked for piece of advice
was brought to you by Sam Adams lager, currently perched on my desk.
Random thought: remember the good old days, when the only thing we had to worry about was nuclear war and devastation?
By the way, here's the latest on the book: publication has been
pushed back until January. Yeah, I know. (Insert many apologies here).
Let's just say that a bizarre mixture of events have made this the only
solution. Is that vague enough, while at the same time sounding
mysterious and unhelpful? OK. In the meantime, I do have two new
articles at Ironminds, here and here.
Lots of new stuff coming here to the site in December, including the
new "Letters" section, the long-awaited "Clipart Fiction Theater," and,
to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of this site (in January), a free
novel. Yeah, free! Just sign up for the monthly newsletter below in
that little Topica box for info on that and everything else that's
What about the free gifts, you ask? Christmas is coming up
quicker than you might realize (if the decorations and trees that are
ALREADY UP at my local drugstore are any indication – now the Christmas
stuff is right next to the Halloween masks and candy), so I'm going to
time their mailing so you have them then.
See you Monday.