It's what happens when you combine coffee, a laptop, and a writer. TAPTAPTAPTAPTAP ka-CHING!

Oh wait. You kids are too young to remember the sound a carriage return makes.

That's not writing. That's typing.
-- Truman Capote, commenting on Jack Kerouac's manic writing style

If you've ever been under the influence of an espresso buzz, you know it feels like bees buzzing between your ears. The intelligence level drops down to insect level, but - damn! - you feel STRONG! And the words just come blathering out. Shitty first drafts. Logorrhea.

Ever stayed up all night pounding badly made coffee while knocking out a meaningless paper for the English dept's humanities class? Yeah, like that. It's you, the computer, and that running word count, baybee. Just get me to 2000 words and then I'm done!

A mathematician is a device that turns coffee into theorems.
-- Pal Erdös, Hungarian mathematician

Erdös highly recommended the use of stimulants. He felt coffee kept him creative.

That patron saint of drug use and writing, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, said stimulants kept him focussed.

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.

His magnum opus, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was written in one long multi-day cocaine fueled rager, an epic writing session with epic success. Sometimes, these things really do work.

Late Credits

  • Apparently writer Anne Lamott was the originator of the phrase "shitty first draft." That, or an early and enthusiastic practitioner.
  • Thank you, Anonymous Reviewer #2, for the correct spelling of Anne Lamott.


Alchemy- " Miraculous power of transmuting something common into something precious."
Webster's dictionary

The process is simple and mysterious,
the intersection of
science and art.

Blank screen, digital input
added to curiosity and caffeine
served warm.

Words, served later
ink thrown at a page by a disinterested machine
pages spat upon the floor without so much as a glance

Here I am, watching you reading them,
hoping for a smile or better,
a sharp inhale.

(This one's for dannye, who, in 53 private messages that I saved, recently encouraged me to write about my husband's diagnosis of Alzheimer's, saying he felt what my husband was going through was far worse than his own health situation. Looking back, he messaged me regarding three of my write-ups in a mildly positive way. He also advised me to read Mark Helprin, ten pages at a time, for which I will always remember, since I chose In Sunlight and in Shadow first, then A Soldier of the Great War...I was singing "Oh, Danny Boy" ALL SUMMER, desperately trying not to read faster than he recommended.) The other 50 messages were scathing, but I'm not one to back down. I felt, while reading Helprin, that I was, in my own way, making peace with dannye. Like praying for him. Odd, for a man I never met...for a self-proclaimed atheist, much like my husand...)

Cup One: Don't talk to me. Don't call on the phone unless it's an emergency. Don't knock on my front door, even if you're a cute, freckled little kid missing a few front teeth selling lemonade and lollipops. I've just woken up from interrupted sleep, nightmares of my own, then comforting my husband, as needed. Every two hours, like breastfeeding a newborn. The phrases, "It is what it is," and "I'll pray for you," are not comforting at this time.

Cup Two: Had to grind more coffee beans, knocked over the container, blew a fuse in the kitchen, and felt guilty about saying no to the kid at the door, but fuck, it was Sunday and the church bells hadn't even called the faithful at 9:20 am. Someone has been parking a huge public yellow school bus in the parking lot, blocking our view of the chapel and the shrine to Mary, which for whatever reason comforts me now. Just seeing holy light in all of the darkness. Put that on the list of annoying things that can be fixed, changed with a few polite phone calls. After cleaning up the spilled coffee grinds, I hoped the day would go well, that my outlook would shift, lighten, lift. My husband's sister was coming for an overnight visit. She is delightful, funny and intelligent, despite being schizophrenic for 50 years.

Cup Three: Eating generic dry bran cereal and reading the back of the box, which explains Our Government at Work, starting with the Preamble, then a brief definition of the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch. The utter irony of the timing is both frightening, depressing and hilarious. The graphics include: The Statue of Liberty, an American Eagle, Mount Rushmore, The Supreme Court, Lincoln Monument, the Liberty Bell, The White House and an older soldier wearing glasses, saluting with a sunset or sunrise behind him, all framed within a border of thin red, white stars on blue. (I've eaten all cereal without milk since I was a child, so this is comfort food, minus the sugar and fat.)

Cup Four: It is now noon or later; my husband has taken over the kitchen. He tells me about his nightmares and I say, "Yes, I was there. I turned on the all the lights to make the tangle of vines go away." He still looks so worried I put my arms around his neck and sing, "...I thank the Lord for the night time...I thank the Lord for you,..." Still not up to the equilivent of one cup of fully caffeinated coffee, spontaneously, I do a slinky-in-my-pajamas dance, just for him. The smile it brings to his face wipes away my guilt about being grouchy, my guilt about the kid at the door, my guilt about not going to church for the last year.

lyrics by Neil Diamond

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