musings from the coffee shop

I’m sitting in a coffee shop. All that’s left of my latte is a puddle of cold fuzz. It’s gray outside. My feet are cold. (I have a bird I love to hold…) It’s easier, and a lot more entertaining, to watch people than it is to write. Writing bores me. Heck, I bore me. I have nothing new to say.

A different shop. A different coffee. Same idea. 

Ben recently wrote that he hardly ever edits what he writes. He just sits down, usually without a clear idea even, and types for a bit before hitting publish. And I’m all like, Wha—? No edits? No woodpeckeresque backspacing? No resorting to chocolate and Facebook?

The way I see it, I have two strikes against me. First, it takes me a long time to write anything. Second, I don’t have any ideas. I might as well just give up now.

I recently won a new cookbook. When it arrived, I settled down at the table to have a look-see. It didn’t take long for my excitement to turn to dismay. The book was, quite frankly, horrible. Everything about it was cliché and over-simplified. (How’s that for over-simplification?) For example, one of the recommendations for sprucing up a kitchen is to spend thirty minutes doing a thorough fridge cleaning. As in, uplug the beast and pull it out from the wall to scrub its backside, sort, trash, and compost the containers of food, soak the drawers and disinfect the shelving and walls all in thirty measly minutes. Unless they were confusing a college mini fridge with the standard big box, I don’t think so.

Furthermore, any book that encourages me to not sweat the cleaning and instead light a candle in the bathroom in hopes that no one will turn on the lights is not to be trusted. Since when does anyone go into an unfamiliar bathroom and not turn on the lights, candle or no? When I mentioned that nugget of bathroom advice to my husband, he was all like, Ew, gross!

What’s the value in making things seem easier than they are? In the case of this cookbook, the answer is money, I guess. The easy way out is what sells.

It’s all a bunch of lies, though. There is no easy way out. At least not for the good stuff. Cooking takes time. Cleaning takes time. The satisfaction you get out of something is in direct proportion to what you put in. Why, just this afternoon, I was ranting to my son, Stop trying to take the easy way out! Sweat! Push yourself! (Humph. Appears I am my own cliché.)

So why do I think my writing should be easy? Why would I want it to be?

The more often I do something, the easier it becomes. Well, kind of. The doing action is easier, but it’s still a head battle to apply myself. Once I commit to the work, the battle’s mostly won.

Some days I don’t win very many battles. Instead of cooking the farro and chopping the spinach, I eat the jelly beans. Instead of cracking that book with the unfamiliar author, I idly scroll. Instead of popping out of bed, lacing up my sneakers, and trotting down the road, I shuffle around in slippers, grumping at the other humans cluttering up my personal space.

Soon I’ll toss my paper cup in the trash and head home. After a supper of spaghetti carbonara (perhaps I’ll add spinach?), I’ll reread this post. Maybe I’ll decide to delete it. Before bed, I’ll straighten up the house. Perhaps I’ll toss that disappointing cookbook in the box that’s destined for the thrift store.

Because it’s always possible that my easy is someone else’s hard.

This same time, years previous: how are you different now?, laid flat, homeschoolers have it tough, and lemon squares.


  • Ayrie Joyce

    I really love your writing style. You're one of my go to blogs – always something witty or thought provoking – and great photography too. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

  • ben

    Those aren't strikes against you… they're just the way you work, sort of like the way I work is to start babbling and see what happens.

    You know what would probably be real good for the both of us? If we swapped techniques for a time.

    • Jennifer Jo

      I think this would mean I'd have to send you a shipment of chocolate AND sign off from Facebook. Something tells me you'd be getting the better deal.

      Though on second thought, maybe not….

    • katie

      He doesn't say writing is easy for him, just that he doesn't edit.

      I just had a week of doing nothing. I was completely non-productive in a "answering "what did you do today?" sort of way. In the middle of it though, i realized that what was happening was that after the constant mental gymnastics of having babies for children, I was scoring more mental space and my mind was working on expanding back into that space. I started dreaming about things again! I had started imagining possibilities! At that realization I gave up on wanting to be productive. Now, the dreaming is still there, but getting things done has come back as well. … then the kids all started puking everywhere. so it goes.

  • marie

    Thank you for writing this. It is true, we go for the easy, and don't just dig in. To be a good example to the kids, I have to get off my couch, roll up my sleeves, and attack this house(um, dump.)

  • An Oregon mom.

    I love your blog. Your writing is fun to read, with a nice dose of real life. And your ending statement is wonderfully true & thought provoking. So please keep up for writing struggles for our enjoyment sake!

    • Jennifer Jo

      I couldn't sleep this morning for fretting over the pointlessness of my rambles. And then this affirmation! I feel better now.

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