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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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Writing Class, Coffee Meditations

Last night was the third class on creative non-fiction taught by Neal Thompson. Two things I learned last week: 1) the definitions, according to Peter Rubie’s Telling the Story: How to Write and Sell Narrative Nonfiction: "creative nonfiction refers to short pieces for newspaper and magazines, while narrative nonfiction is used… in book publishing circles to refer to book-length projects." 2) an interesting topic is not an interesting story to write.

Topics covered last night include: finding the right story idea, research for the story and interview tips, techniques and ethics.

After class, I walked over to Old Europe (a cafe that stays open late... real late). I purchased a single latte and some pastries from a dark-haired woman wearing a black sweater. One of the students in my class ruminated over the fact that Old Europe pastries seem to taste better because they are served to patrons by a lovely staff. I remembered this as I took the white paper bag of pastries and cup of latte from the counter and glanced back at the two hostesses. Both dark-haired women dressed in black, wearing smiles and serving patrons seemed enchanted. Is it because they enjoy serving others, or is it because they enjoy where they work?

As I waited for my ride, two guitarists were performing folk tunes next to The Flat Iron sculpture. I sat on a bench and watched. An old couple and later a young couple with a child dropped money into their open guitar cases. After a song about something to do with the deep, deep ocean (or something like that) a free-spirited young lady glided across the street and began dancing before them. Not a formal dance. A hippie/peace-nik/goddess dance seen at Grateful Dead of Phish concerts. If you're not familiar with that subculture, imagine San Francisco circa 1969 or Woodstock (same era)--that's the manner in which she danced. Maybe that's why people come to this mountain city to view/experience the local wild life.

The term free-spirited expresses the mood of this area. As this young lady wearing a long-skirt, knitted hat and opened jacket danced to the music of the strumming minstrels, I thought of the nature of the free-spirited lifestyle. "Freedom isn't free" declared a bumper sticker I read recently. But what does it cost to be free-spirited? Freedom to do what you want with your life is one answer I've heard. That seems a bit myopic. It is nearly impossible to live without affecting others. Maybe that's the trade-off, freedom to do what you want at the cost of others. No rules for a free-spirited life means that at least one rule was declared. The irony of the free-spirited lifestyle is that despite the heady philosophy, the dancing young lady looked for cars before crossing the street. This implies compliance with certain social and civil behaviors. What sounds good in philosophical books and discussions breaks down when applied to everyday life.

  1. Blogger mike | 1:03 PM, October 01, 2004 |  

    write on matt. good stuff.

  2. Blogger 1000 black lines | 3:02 PM, October 01, 2004 |  

    Thanks for your support, Mike. Last night (after Beanstreets open-mic) I had a long discussion with another writer at Old Europe. We talked about a short story (10,000 words) he had sent me and then we meandered into a conversation about James Joyce and post-modern writing. The camaraderie as writers is much needed… or maybe it's more like we're a band of brothers in the war of words and ideas.

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