Recently an editor I worked with called me a writer sipping coffee. He included himself in this delightful epithet, but somehow “editor sipping coffee” just doesn’t have the same ring. It lacks that connotation of clueless self-absorption and artistic egotism inherent in the phrase “writer sipping coffee.”
Though I confess I was at first hurt and slightly offended by this remark, I have wisely come to embrace the designation. It’s incredibly useful, you see.
When my husband asks me a question to which I don’t know the answer I can simply say, “How should I know? I’m just a writer sipping coffee.”
Or when I bungle a task that normal people could do with one hand tied behind their backs, I can shrug and give a faux laugh and say, “Well, that’s what comes of being a writer sipping coffee!”
Or when I forget to do something really important, I can tell my husband or my friend or whoever, “Darling, what do you expect? I’m just a writer sipping coffee.”
Of course, it does backfire on occasion. I just got another work-for-hire gig: a 2000-word review of four books (totaling 1350 pages) and another 3000-word essay. I’m getting paid a whopping $350. When I laughingly told a friend this, he said, “Wow. Must be nice to get paid that much!”
I just stared at him. Clearly, the writer sipping coffee stereotype is firmly etched in his imagination, and it cloaks me completely. I may as well get used to it.
I’ve decided that, to complete the picture of writerly bliss, I need a cigarette in my right hand. The coffee’s in my left. The open laptop is in front of me on the lacquered table of the coffeehouse. I take a long drag on the cigarette and slowly exhale as I stare fixedly into space. Then I take a sip of my latte (because this is Seattle, after all; I couldn’t possibly drink plebian drip).
Another drag on my cigarette. Still staring at nothing. Another sip of coffee, until inspiration strikes, and I type fast and furiously, whipping out my 5000 words of brilliant, perfect prose in half an hour.
Ah, the life of a writer sipping coffee.