Writing, Pie & the Napoleon Cafe
Local diners are the hidden jewels of small communities. The Napoleon Café is one such jewel. The patrons are local tradesmen, farmers and friends meeting for lunch and sharing good down-home cooking.
I gather there with my writing friends from the Columbia Women’s Writer’ Group every other Friday, depending on the weather and our busy schedules. We have lunch, often followed by a slice of pie, catch up and spend an hour or so writing.
Jean just finished writing WWII stories about her late husband. She wanted to get the memories down on paper for her two grown sons. It only takes a couple of generations for stories to be forgotten. She is a wonderful writer and a retired English teacher. She edited my first novel and has done the same for several writers in the area.
Marti and I met eleven years ago at a Writers’ Conference in Ludington. She’s working on two story lines. Somehow she keeps them straight in her mind. They are both very different and interesting fictional tales.
I’m making a good start on my second novel but my effort is sporadic. Writing is a solitary calling and between my liking to be with people and not being able to sit still for more than two hours at a time, it’s slow going.
The waitresses at the café know us and don’t mind that we stay for two hours or more. They’ve learned that once we start writing they can ignore us. No so with the other diners. Sooner or later their curiosity gets the better of them and they stop by our table to see what we’re up to. We’ve met other budding writers that way and we encourage them to keep at it.
Writing is not about publishing and large advances. Writers write because it is who they are. All the rest comes from this need to put our thoughts and imaginings on paper. Like an artist who paints, we make pictures and tell stories with our words. If you’re writing to get rich you’ve picked the wrong occupation.
Once, I was reading aloud a scene from the latest adventures of Benny Longtree (the working title of my novel) for Jean and Marti’s input. It was giving me trouble and I wanted to make sure that my description of the Huron Indians and their actions were not coming across as a cliché. The people at the tables and booths near us stopped eating and started listening. It was then I knew I’d written the scene well.
Staying connected to other writers is essential to ward off the necessary aloneness of a writer’s life. We shore each other up when the blank page is too foreboding. We critique each other’s work and share our successes and frustrations. No one understands a writer like another writer and a piece of pie in a small town diner doesn’t hurt either.