Like many who have a passion for writing, the commitment to the craft snuck up on me gradually. I had always written, sure – even as a boy. I excelled at the essay format in high school and university. (I also created a comic strip, at age 13, too, but that’s for another post.) In my first post-university professional role, among other responsibilities, I wrote ad copy and press releases for a marketing/PR firm. During that time, I took creative writing classes – held in the evening. I wrote on paper back then. Seems like a life ago now. Somehow, crumpling a piece of paper in frustration, over the quality of the work, reflected the sense of drama a creative man ought to: more so than pressing the delete button on a computer keyboard, for certain. Development of my career(s), the demands of entrepreneurship, raising two kids, the overwhelming impact of marital dissolution, and a multitude of other interests, hobbies and passions, always seemed to interfere with getting stories from my head onto the keyboard. I exercised my writing skills by writing content for periodicals, corporate communications and social media, but those related to my professional activities in finance and investment. That genre of writing has never allowed me to fully exercise my creativity and permitted that undeniable sense of fulfillment that comes with it.
The fictional stories, or concepts behind them, wouldn’t stop. I know it sounds terribly cliché, but they haunted my sleep. They rattled around in my head like moths trapped inside an exterior light fixture, bumping up against my brain repeatedly – trying to get out. I needed a creative outlet.
Sleep came with difficulty. Good sleep was rare. I started waking increasingly early. Coffee, dark and black, became my close friend and companion on long Canadian winter mornings. So did the keyboard. Early mornings, a pot of coffee and banging (I still two-finger type) on the keys became routine. The words, pages and plot flowed. The coffee soothed and lubricated the output. One book took shape. One, two, three re-writes. An editor took over. More re-writing. Sleeping actually became easier, though I still remember one all-night editing session. I had imposed an arbitrary deadline on finalizing The Hermit of Carmel. I was determined to adhere to it. A large carafe of coffee got me through the night, a spectacular sunrise, and into mid-morning before I finally eased myself beneath the comforter and enjoyed the satisfaction of putting myself, and the first novel, to bed.
Novel #3 is in outline form and a foil bag of dark Sumatra roast sits quietly beside the french press – patiently awaiting a pour over. I can’t imagine a scenario in which writing and coffee were not synonymous. It fuels me. It inspires me. More coffee, more writing.