Where to go? Finding my writing home-away-from-home wasn’t easy. My writing group meets in the café at Elliott Bay Book Company. That’s a welcoming location and our relationship with the booksellers has led to three members having readings there. It’s not close enough for my regular writing excursions, though.
I live in Seattle, where the world’s first Starbucks still operates in a rustic storefront in the Pike Place Market. Now Starbucks are everywhere–nothing could be more convenient. Since it became corporate though, Starbucks isn’t always popular in its hometown. Independent coffee shops have signs that say, “Friends don’t let friends go to Starbucks.”
I tried. I really tried all the nearby independents, but something was bothering me. I finally realized that the clientele was too homogenous. Everyone, including me, seemed to be white, middle class and well educated. It didn’t fit because my zip code is 98118. We are rumored to be the most diverse neighborhood in the country. People here speak 59 different languages and they speak them all in my neighborhood Starbucks. It is a cornucopia of different nationalities. I know a man from Eretria whose family fled during the 1999 war with Ethiopia. His elderly father told him that Starbucks is his favorite thing about the United States. He meets friends, drinks coffee and feels at home there. His favorite thing about our entire country–that is a high recommendation.
I’m in Starbuck’s now. Here’s what I see: the young woman next to me studies a Hebrew text, a Pilipino man who from the bank across the street orders his “regular” drink at the counter, a group of Somali men sit at a table by the window, an African American couple meets with a white woman about urban planning. That just scratches the surface of the world that will pass through in the next hour while I settle into my writing. I promise this is not a paid advertisement, but I’ve found my writing home and it feels like the whole world is here with me.
Do you have a favorite place to write when you need a change of scenery?
Martha Crites’ first mystery novel is Grave Disturbance, to be released this fall by Rat City Publishing. She has worked in community and inpatient mental health for twenty years. She has also taught at the Quileute Tribal School on the Washington coast. She lives with her husband in Seattle. When she isn’t working or writing, you will find her walking or volunteering along the Camino de Santiago, the medieval pilgrimage route in Spain. Please visit her at marthacrites.com
Advance praise: “Beautifully written, Grave Disturbance evokes the fragile beauty of the Cascades foothills and the precarious balance of the human mind in the grip of fear. The story feels so real you can smell the dirt from the plundered graves.”
Where the Bones Are Buried, a Dinah Pelerin mystery