Janu-Edit is a month long edit-fest, and I’m totally into it. Hell, my generation of 90’s coffee slurping pseudo-BA-educated, blazer and scarf wearing peers practically set us all up with the perfect place to write and edit.
I’m into Janu-Edit because I have a brand spanking new first draft of a novel that needs some…tweaking before I send it out for real editing. By someone who hasn’t lived through the hundreds of pages agonizingly trying to squeeze out an outline without getting lost in the novelists world that characters create in their head.
My favourite place to write has always, hands down, been a busy corner of one of many Starbucks locations tucked safely inside of a Chapters or Indigo. With so much condescending talk about Millennials, we’ve forgotten about my generation – the Gen-Xers. We are the reason that pretentious, over-priced coffee houses who allow you to sit and use their space for free (other than buying the coffee and mass produced pastry), exist.
For the past number of weeks I have been bound to the house, hours out are a precious commodity, and as my time as a caregiver comes to an end, I feel the need for a change of scenery, for a uplifting events, and kindred exchanges of friendship.
Today I escaped to begin the arduous process of picking through my first draft. During a ‘happy new year’ phone call to a jaded pal, she proclaimed that her new year’s eve inspired the conclusion that, as she so delicately phrased it, “all men are shit.” Quite a conclusion to clear the path for a fresh, new year.
Don’t worry darlings, I didn’t forget where I was going with this post. I wrote the last two paragraphs to tell you this;
My coffee shop escapes are a rich resource for character development.
Once I settle in connected to power, wifi, and caffeine, I generally can sit for hours, only getting up and purchasing the obligatory coffee every hour or so in order not to become a parasite. While perched at my window seat (my favourite place to write, sip and observe), my gaze followed a middle-aged man who strolled in through Starbucks and went straight for the magazine rack.
Would this man be aware of my friend let’s say, eyeballing him with abject hatred, because he was a man? The grey hair on his head was balding. He sported undone work boots, blue jeans (clean, and in a traditional dad cut that left all manner of physique to the imagination), and an orange construction coat with the reflective yellow X on the back.
This isn’t the kind of guy who buys six dollar coffee. And he certainly wasn’t the type of man who automatically strolls over to the copy of Birds and Blooms on the magazine rack. Not if you’re thinking in stereotypes. Stereotypes alone can only get a writer so far, and then you need real character. You see, real people (just like characters) have all sorts of quirks and habits that need to be worked out, and often times these quirks come out only as authors write them into situations where they are interacting with other characters, or even more interestingly, with only themselves.
Pausing to look up at the world that’s going on in that little microcosm of a literary coffee shop inspires character, and the coffee caffeinates. Coffee culture has always been alive and well throughout the world, bringing friends together and demanding space to generate ideas. In my little corner of Canada, Gen-Xers breathed new life into the coffee shops that are home to so many artists and writers.
This month I’m on a roll, feeling right at home curled up in my stereotypical cozy sweater and scarf, sipping a latte, or herbal tea, and looking very serious about what I’m working on. Janu-Edit doesn’t stand a chance against this stereotype, I just hope my quirks don’t get in the way.