Memoir Writing Lesson #7: Check

Today’s memoir writing lesson from Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend from Far Away:

Write about coffee.

Ten minutes on coffee? Goldberg figures everybody drinks it, or if they don’t, they stopped for some reason. But I have never had a cup of coffee. I don’t know why. When I was a kid my mother’s two younger siblings, my aunt and my uncle, didn’t drink coffee either. All three of us liked ice cream, and we all preferred it with baby spoons so we could stir it up with Hershey’s chocolate and then mince our way through it with those tiny spoonheads. But coffee? No. My dad was a big coffee drinker. He never drank water, but drank coffee instead. His blood must have been part coffee. My mother also drank coffee, but a human quantity (unlike Dad). Whenever Dad wanted to rest from his relentless expression of hyperactivity, he’d hold out an empty coffee cup and ask my mother to pour him some coffee. I never liked the smell of coffee, a smell I associated with an odor of garbage, something that is over and done with, discarded. Like cigarette butts. Empty cups and overflowing ashtrays. On road trips with my parents, we had to stop for “a cup of coffee.” It was never for a Coke or a burger or a snack. But a cup of coffee. And my father took that quite literally, ordering himself coffee. When I was young, it was coffee with cream. When I got a little older, he drank it black. Until the year he died, my father drank coffee at 11PM every night, just before bed. By the time mom climbed into bed after him he would be asleep. That last cup never kept him awake. Maybe my father’s relationship with coffee had something to do with his undiagnosed (except by me and, later, my father himself) ADHD.


Go ahead and try it. Start here: Write about coffee.

Simon who lived at the shelter and just went to his own home!


Filed under #AmWriting, Cats and Other Animals, Creative Nonfiction, Flash Nonfiction, Inspiration, Memoir, Memoir writing theory, Nonfiction, Research and prep for writing, Writing, Writing prompt

24 responses to “Memoir Writing Lesson #7: Check

  1. I enjoyed your musings on coffee. Yes, all that coffee drinking will make a person hyper and nervous. Perhaps someone who wishes to be in that mode or feels the need to be hypervigilant will drink that much coffee. There is cause (caffeine) and effect (wired).

    • Haha, I guess it would, but my father was immune to caffeine by the time I was around. Maybe he was always immune to it? Maybe he needed it by then? He was the type of person who goes and goes and goes until he runs out of power (falls asleep). Two speeds: full blast and off.

  2. My grandfather made my dad promise to bring my mom coffee in bed every morning when he asked for her hand. I didn’t know this until I was in my 40’s. From the time I was born until their passing he kept his promise. I wish I’d known this while living under their roof. I would have watched love and promise-keeping in action with a different understanding.

  3. I’m so glad to see you are writing again! 🙂 [happy dancing] I don’t know which I enjoy more – the exercises you are sharing or the wonderful cat photos!

    • Hahaha! Yes, I am forcing myself to 30 minutes a day on the memoir, too. We’ll see how long that lasts! 30 minutes doesn’t do much in revision because I am agonizing over every phrase.

  4. What a lovely piece, Luanne.

  5. I’m drinking coffee right now. Light cream, heavy sugar. I don’t always take it that way, I mix it up. Certain flavored coffee is better strong. I like iced coffee, too. Coffee’s what I wanted when I got home. I’m decaffed though, so this won’t keep me up. Unlike your dad, I can’t drink caffeine past afternoon, or I will hate myself at bedtime. My husband is like your dad, though. He has the ADD though. My son the same — he went through a serious, and scary, energy drink period. I hope he’s done rebelling with that, cause I wasn’t sure which of us would have a heart attack over it.
    Coffee is something I’ve always enjoyed. I remember being a kid and drinking coffee with my mother, grandmother, and aunt. Lots of ashtrays then, too.
    I took coffee to high school every morning of my senior year. More like cafe au lait, then.
    Coffee is something I have bonded over with so many people in my life. I suppose we’re all a bunch of coffeeholics? Many of my happiest moments are holding a cup of coffee outside on a cold day.
    I had this friend,Tori, (RIP) who made the most amazing coffee, and I think of her every single time I make coffee. She lives on in my coffee, I think.
    The Mister and I went for coffee dates before we were an item.
    When I’m coming to visit, people let me know they’ve got new coffee to try, or ask me to make it, it’s a thing.
    I worked at Starbucks for a while. It was a good job for a coffeeholic. We drank free coffee all day, and got a treat drink at the end of our shifts. I’d usually take my MIL a frap, because she kept my kids.
    Coffee, mmm, coffee 😛

    • Man, you are GOOD. Coffee, go: there is Joey breaking records! You almost make me like it hahaha. I will say that I do like caffeine as I have always had this thing for Mountain Dew.

      • Oh now, see, I don’t like Mountain Dew one little bit! lol
        My non-coffee friends are usually tea or cocoa people, cause it’s cold here half the year, and we need the hot liquid to keep us warm 😉

        • I like tea and cocoa, too, although I first got addicted to Mtn Dew when I was about 13 in Michigan. Within 10 years I had a lot of cavities.

  6. My husband drinks coffee throughout the day; I really only like it in the morning but I could easily drink it right before bed and still fall asleep! 🙂

  7. Wow, never had a cup of coffee! Interestingly coffee was something we never drank in our house when I was growing up – it was always tea, I think coffee was somehow a little exotic. But no longer, now I love a latte!

  8. Coffee is definitely my morning elixir. I love the aroma, the sound of it dripping into my favorite mug and sipping the first warm drink. It’s meditative for me.

  9. That is so funny, Luanne, that you mention Mountain Dew because I always associate you with it. I think I was at your home one day and you had some and perhaps you had a can or two when we were office mates? Whatever the instances, each time I see a Mountain Dew, you come to mind! I do love the smell of coffee, though I am not a daily drinker of it, since I prefer tea. Tea mixed with tart cherry juice. Tea mixed with cranberry juice. Hot tea with honey and milk. Plain tea. So here is my tribute to tea, but I do enjoy Starbuck’s seasonal coffee drinks. Each new one is like a little poem to me, like the new chili mocha. 🙂

    • Speaking of food and status and class hahahahahahaha Mountain Dew, of all things. It’s always been a problem for me! Your tea mixes are interesting. I never thought of taking a pure item like tea and mucking it up with juice and so on, but I can see where it might be good. The best tea is Oolong tea. Oh, I love that stuff!!!
      I love that you find “little poems” at Starbucks! Chili mocha? Oh my. Is that the same sort of thing as cayenne shortbread? They have that at the gluten free bakery!

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