Another throwback Thursday, with more writing lessons learned.
What have I discovered?
I engaged Twitter a lot more than I do today. Will I exercise that media more now? Should I? Am I missing something vital? Did I get much out of it then? Obviously not, because I’m writing and functioning without Tweeting my life away. Will I get much out of it now? Yesterday, May 20th, after I (re)posted a link to my Letter Q #AtoZChallenge post, I received one direct message and one retweet. Not bad for an abandoned account.
I celebrated and shared my writing with other writers and journalists that day. I won an award from Illinois Woman’s Press Association and received the award in Chicago. Honestly, I don’t remember what the award was for or if my piece won First Place or Honorable Mention in the context I entered, but I felt like a superstar. I was an unexpected attendee. It’s only 4 1/2 hours drive from Detroit to Chicago. A solo weekend adventure was too good to miss.
What is Chicago without some personal writing time? Sitting among bookstores and a shady fountain, a journal and a pink pen is all I needed. It was a warm, sunny day, not too hot, not too breezy. I hit my step count walking along the river, on a path that may or may not be part of the local Chicago Riverwalk. It was a long stretch of cement, reminding me of a pier stretching out, feeling like I could fall into all that blue of Lake Michigan and float in relaxation.
And coffee. Always coffee. But not coffee.
That’s the last thing I discovered, not surprisingly: drinking coffee. Or tea. The important thing was the coffeeshop cafe experience. It still is.
Millburn is boutique town filled with clothing shoppes and Italian restaurants , a place where the only chain stores downtown are Dunkin’, Kung Fu Tea, Häagen-Dazs and Starbucks. Yes, I drink coffee and tea there, sitting at the tables in the upper floor. Four doors up the street is The Coffee Mill Roasters, a moody coffeeshop with hi-top tables for patrons to look onto Main St. and become one with the world when those wall-length doors are opened in warmer weather. A perfect setting to enjoy the handmade pastries and food baked by the owner and his wife.
Now let’s combine those two: drinks and writing. That was the Wednesday for our bimonthly Deadwood Writers meeting. My beloved critique group taught me so much about me and my writing, making me a better writer by sharing their honest comments on the pieces I submitted for group review. Word choice, flow, dialogue, and the meaning of an “info dump” made me stronger. Sitting among the heart of cooking books section–until new management placed another shelf there and moved us to the cafe–was soothing and creative. The setting in the cafe was loud, sitting there next to the blender grinding iced coffee drinks, but there was still creative friendship. We just had to yell down the table to each other. I always got to the meeting early so I could claim a seat in the middle of the two or three tables we pushed together.
But wait! There’s more.
As a bonus discovery, Timehop showed Swarm check-ins from 2001 at places long gone, almost forgotten. Remember these places?
I miss Borders. That store was more comfortable and spacious to stretch out in. Room to read, relax, sip coffee drinks. From the balcony cafe, I looked down on the store, my magazine piles mingled with the music finds my husband shared with me.
Archiver’s was a deep, color-full craft store filled with every type of pen, marker, ink, thread, paint, canvas, adhesive and papers imaginable. If I was stuck inside the store overnight, I would delight in the creativity all mine. I’d only stress about the thought of having to leave when the store opened the next day.