Call me Writer 007 ~ I take my Coffee Shaken or Stirred with Words on the side

An image came up on my Facebook feed this week and sparked the idea for this blog post…

Image courtesy of: http://www.panyl.com/blogs/news/6369590-time-for-a-refill-study-shows-ambient-noise-other-people-working-leads-to-higher-individual-productivity
Image courtesy of: http://www.panyl.com/blogs/news/6369590-time-for-a-refill-study-shows-ambient-noise-other-people-working-leads-to-higher-individual-productivity

Coffee and Writers go together like Petroleum and Grand Prix.

Coffee and I began our love affair lustful addiction in a town on the southern coast of Greece, 50kms from Athens. I was 21 and on my first overseas trip to visit my BFF in Greece. I left South Africa innocent of the vice that was soon to have me addicted, enthralled and enticed. In Greece my two drink options were Coffee or Ouzo. With that first sip of dark viscous liquid (I am speaking about the small cups of Greek coffee not Ouzo. ūüėČ Ouzo is a post for another day. ) that looked like a cross between mud and volcanic ooze I was hypnotized and Coffee became my favourite vice. From there it was a short fall to sipping the sweet, strong, rich goodness of a Greek Frapp√©. (I am not talking about the Westernised Frappucino that tastes more like a milkshake than any cousin of the original Frapp√©.) The lustful addiction had entrapped me and I was lost to the rich, decadent embrace of caffeine.

Writers drink coffee. Writers love coffee-shops or cafes. There is an ambience to writing in a coffee shop that is akin to a GP racing car driver at a race track. Just like the aromas of petroleum and exhaust fuel excite a professional GP driver so do the aromas of caffeine and the inexhaustible supply of dialogue inspiration and quirky characters at a coffee shop excite the writer. This is especially true for the writer who writes full time. Writing is a lonely job at the best of times but when you are tucked away in your writing cave – just you and the voices of your characters – it can be very lonely. This is when a visit to the coffee shop offers fresh inspiration. You order your favourite order of coffee, tuck yourself in at a corner table, open up the laptop/macbook/pen&paper and start writing. I like to choose a corner table with a view of the baristas & coffee machines and a view of the comings and goings of the coffee shop patrons. At this spot, I can keep an eye on what is happening around me but also make sure that nobody sneaks up behind me: very important since my pages/screen tend to be filled with ghostly hauntings, chilling killers stalking my main characters and dark places.

Luckily great coffee is never difficult for me to find since I live on the northern coast of Auckland-New Zealand, rated by Conde Nast traveller as one of the 9 BEST places in the WORLD to have a Coffee.

Every time I drink a cup of coffee I am transported to the places I have enjoyed great coffee…from the coast of Greece to the souks of Dubai to the alleys of Melbourne to the many cafes of Auckland…coffee is a passport not only to creativity but to the memory of the places I have been.

There are still a few places I want to travel to enjoy coffee in…Rome, Vienna, Barcelona, New York but the top of this list would have to be…

My Coffee-Passport Bucket List

Paris, France

I would love to walk in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre in Paris, another of the 9 best coffee places in the world. Every writer should travel to Paris and soak up the literary ambience. I shall save that for the Bucket List.

In the meantime, excuse me while I brew myself an Espresso Macchiato and open up the next page in my WIP. Mmm I can smell the rich smell of that decadent nectar now and it is sparking some fresh words in the WIP.

Do you have a love affair with coffee? What are your favourite coffee orders?

Do you write in coffee shops? 

Where in the world is your favourite place to enjoy coffee? What place is on your coffee-passport bucket list?

Below are some of my favourite coffee-writer quotes and some of my favourite coffee orders.

Oropos, Greece – where Coffee & I first met

Image credits: Apostolos J. Doulias @ http://www.panoramio.com/photo/49551457
Image credits: Apostolos J. Doulias @ http://www.panoramio.com/photo/49551457

“Coffee. Creative lighter fluid.”
‚ÄďFloyd Maxwell

My favourite ways to drink the decadent dark nectar

Greek Frappé in Santorini, Greece

Image courtesy of: http://www.melbournecoffeereview.com/2008/07/a-greek-island-frappe.html
Image courtesy of: http://www.melbournecoffeereview.com/2008/07/a-greek-island-frappe.html

Make your own Greek Frappé

This recipe makes enough for one serving.

  • 1 1/2 tsp instant coffee (Nescafe Original red label is the most popular brand)¬†
  • (Greek Nescafe is super strong so for all other Nescafe use 3-4 tsp coffee)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • Sugar
  • Milk
  • Ice cubes

In a shaker or blender mix together 5 Tbs water, coffee and sugar to taste.

Shake contents for about 30 seconds or blend for about 10 seconds. The result should be simply foam.

Pour into tall glass and add the ice cubes. Add remaining water and milk to taste. Put in a straw. Milk and sugar are according to taste. It is not obligatory to add them.

 РRecipe courtesy of http://www.ineedcoffee.com

Espresso Macchiato

1 shot of espresso top with foamed milk

Image courtesy of: http://bananaleafespresso.wordpress.com/
Image courtesy of: http://bananaleafespresso.wordpress.com/

“Coffee falls into the stomach ‚Ķ ideas begin to move, things remembered arrive at full gallop ‚Ķ the shafts of wit start up like sharp-shooters, similies arise, the paper is covered with ink ‚Ķ”¬†-Honor√© de Balzac

Espresso Con Panna

A double shot of espresso top with whipped cream 

Image courtesy of: http://www.steamykitchen.com/79-espresso-con-panna.html
Image courtesy of: http://www.steamykitchen.com/79-espresso-con-panna.html

¬†“The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce” –¬†Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.¬†

Cappuccino

A double shot espresso + 2.5oz frothed milk + 2.5oz steamed milk 

Image courtesy of: http://www.gourmetcoffeecorner.com/tag/make-cappuccino/
Image courtesy of: http://www.gourmetcoffeecorner.com/tag/make-cappuccino/

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” –T. S. Elliot

Image courtesy of: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/lostgeneration.html
Image courtesy of: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/timeline/lostgeneration.html
Ernest Hemingway¬†wrote, ‚ÄúIt was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a¬†cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write.‚ÄĚ

Stories: Passports without borders

Stories are passports without borders. Stories are passports without visas. Stories are passports to adventure. Stories are passports into the exotic and the extraordinary. Stories are portal doors into worlds unknown. Stories are magic carpets.

One of the first reasons that made me fall in love with stories is the ability to travel to exotic places, experience exotic cultures all without leaving my chair. I love traveling and often call myself a Gypsy at heart. New places usually mean new people to meet and new adventures to experience. In an unknown place the average and ordinary can suddenly become extraordinary. Having a coffee in my local cafe is very been there, done that. But having a coffee in some little plaza in an Italian village on the Amalfi coast would immediately be extraordinary for me. In the same way, that Italian local may find having coffee in my local cafe an extraordinary event.

For this reason I have always read books that are based in foreign countries and even foreign cultures. I come from South Africa, now live in New Zealand – to me neither of these two places is exotic. They are what I know. They are familiar. But when I have told American friends that I come from South Africa and now live in New Zealand – they are always fascinated. They want to know if I have seen lions in the wild. When I tell them that we had a family of leopard living on one of the farms my father managed, they go: “WOW!”. They want to know all about New Zealand especially since the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that really put NZ on the map. But for me exotic places are in Europe or in Central Africa/Northern Africa or the Amazon in South America. But I doubt those same locals who live in these areas think that they live in an exotic locale.

That is the joy of reading stories and in my case going one step further and creating your own stories. I love writing about places I have not been because I find often what may be fairly ordinary to the locals there becomes extraordinary and special in my fresh eyes. One of my favourite pastimes is searching for fresh inspiration for not just story ideas but setting ideas. Pinterest (new addiction) comes in as a very useful tool in these moments. I also love reading/studying/researching the history of each setting and often finds it seeds an idea in my imagination that I let lie and germinate to see what it could potentially blossom into. Nowadays with the ease of the internet and software like Google Earth/Google Maps your research into a place can become acutely accurate down to the street names and the name of that cafe on the corner in that Italian village on the Italian Amalfi Coast.

But at the end of the day the best research you can do when checking out a setting in an exotic locale (if traveling there is absolutely ruled out) is to talk to the locals on the internet. In this day and age there is an internet group for just about everything and there are blogs for just about every type of subject. So I trawl the blogosphere and see if there are any local-specialised blogs devoted to the locale I want to set my story in. Setting is so much more than just a geographic location or street names. Setting is also about the quirks that make that place unique. Is there a particular smell? Smell is a big one. For instance when I smell oranges and lemons I immediately think of Athens, Greece. One of the strongest memories of my time spent there 12 years ago was the tree-lined streets with trees heavy with oranges and lemons. So the smell of oranges and lemons now sums up Athens for me. Location bloggers will give away a lot of these type of tidbits in their blog posts. And most people are always flattered when you tell them you want to learn more about their home because you find it fascinating.

So while I have begun writing on my next project I have been trawling the internet for setting ideas. So I will leave you with some images from my Pinterest board. Some of them are definite settings in my story and some of just teasing seeds of inspiration right now…Mum’s the word (for now) on which settings I am actually going to be using in both the current WIP and upcoming ones. Perhaps you can guess which settings I have chosen.

Perhaps you have been to these places or live there. I would love to know at least 2 quirks that I could not find out from the internet that is unique to each place. Leave me a comment in the comments.

Tell me>> What exotic places would you like a story to be set in? What places grab your imagination?

Source: weburbanist.com via Kim on Pinterest (Abandoned mountain town in Sardinia, Italy)

Source: worldtopjourneys.com via Kim on Pinterest (Manarolo, Cinque Terre, Italy)

Source: toptenz.net via Kim on Pinterest (The City of the Caesars, Patagonia, South America)

Source: underthesunexperience.blogspot.co.nz via Kim on Pinterest (Carcassonne, Languedoc Roussillon, France)

Source: earmchairtraveler.blogspot.com via Kim on Pinterest (Meteora, Greece)

Source: accommodation-bol.com via Kim on Pinterest (Dubrovnik, Croatia)

Source: une-deuxsenses.blogspot.com via Kim on Pinterest¬†(Swallow’s Nest, Crimea)

Source: toptenz.net via Kim on Pinterest (Angkor-Wat, Cambodia)

Source: weburbanist.com via Kim on Pinterest¬†(Gunkanjima, Japan – “Ghost Island”)

Source: roman-empire.net via Kim on Pinterest (Herculaneum, Italy)

All imaged embedded via My Pinterest¬†boards – Feel free to follow me there…

My Writing Nest

Famous Writer’s Rooms¬†

Above I have included a fascinating look into the writing spaces of some authors you may know. Writers’/ Artists’ spaces have always inspired me. There is something very personal about a place where creativity is nurtured.

One week in the new house at the coast. Finally I have finished with my writing nest. It is filled with all the things that inspire me. This is my place of refuge. As promised, here are some pictures of my writing nest. What do you fill your writing nest with?

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 РMy Memory table with my favourite lazyboy armchair. This is my spot for reading and ruminating Рever good writing nest needs one of these. (the cute black and white creature is my gorgeous papillon, Jazz Рthe dancing pup)

 My lovely roll top desk Рnow in its perfect place Рand my ergonomically designed chair.

Pictures on the wall are of my creative home of inspiration – Greece.

My new writing mascot, the tiger (Gary Pinkleton) Рnamed and gifted by my brother. My scented candles. (Red РSpiced Apple and Cinnamon, White РWild Apple & Milk/Honey) 

¬†My ever present writing mascot – the pink troll (he holds a little sign that says “nobody is perfect”)

Thanks for visiting. Now excuse me while I ask you to leave so that I can close the door to my writing nest and get to hatching some new words.

Kim

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Step into a space between time…


This week I read a blog post of a good friend’s about her dream writing retreat if she won lotto. It did not take me long to figure out my dream writing retreat. I have already been there and was entranced and charmed. My dream writing retreat is Greece. There are many reasons why this is my dream retreat. Let me tell you about why of all the places in the world, this would be my dream and will be my future writing retreat.

For me Greece is a magical blending of the Ancient and the Modern. It is a place where you can walk with closed eyes and hear the thundering of the chariots. It is a place of spiritual power and a place that has more stories than can be told in a lifetime at the foundation of its heart. I went to Greece and I fell in love with the country, the people and the culture. There is a timeless essence to being in Greece that lends itself to the timelessness of creativity. Inspiration does not have an era or a timeline. It is as old as time itself.

My strongest memories of Greece are the scent of oranges and lemons. Wherever you go in Greece you will be assailed by the sweet and tangy scents of oranges and lemons. It is a place of donkeys and motorbikes. It is a place of ancient ruins and modern luxury resorts. It is a place where the great Philosophers of time called home and found their inspiration. It is a place of mathematics and poetry.

When you are in Greece, time seems to be suspended and you enter a place where both the Ancient and the New can be together in one place and transcending the element of time. This is a place where life and living is revered. This is a place where a simple meal is appreciated and relished over 3 hours. This is a place where love and lore come home to rest. This is a place where every moment of life is appreciated and time is worshipped. This is place where you do take a moment to enjoy the simpler things in life. This is a place where family is revered and where fierce loyalty binds all.

I remember when I left Greece, I wept bitterly. For here I had found my true home. It is a place that sings to my soul. I still travel there at night in my dreams. It is the place in my mind that I escape to when I need a respite from daily life. My heart and soul belong to this ancient home of Philosophy and Inspiration. I made a vow to Greece when I left that I would come home to her. I would come home to this place of beauty and power.

I want to feel the power of magic coursing through my veins as I stand once more in the ancient ruins of The Acropolis.  I want to view the horizon from her rugged cliff-tops. I want to ride on the back of a donkey, that most humble of creatures integral to Greek culture, up a mountain side to my blue-doored and white-walled home. My view will be that of the brilliant blues and greens of the magical Mediterranean sea. I want to taste fresh seafood caught that day in the bounty of this sea. I want to know that here I am finally at home. This is the place that my gypsy heart calls home.

I believe that there is a certain place in the world where your heart,soul,mind and body just feel enriched and feel “at home”. My place is Greece. The land of the legends and myths, land of Eros and Romance. The land where love and poetry are the cornerstones of this culture. Step into the home of democracy and freedom. Walk in the pathways of Socrates and Homer. Let the grandeur of the ancients seep into your veins. Swim in the fountains of the ancient nymphs and play in the playgrounds of the Ancients.

Come join me in Greece and be inspired by the rugged beauty of cliff tops, the endless orchards of Olive trees, the traversing of goats and donkeys, the magical blues and greens of the Mediterranean, the sweet and tangy blended scents of oranges and lemons. Take a seat on the roof of my cerulean blue-doored and blue shuttered, white-walled home and forget time and the rush to squander time. Watch the fishing boats come in as you take in a magnificent sunset that has seen the passing and stilling of time as the centuries roll by. Be taken in and charmed by the many superstitions that these lyrical people believe in. Step into the land of the Olympians and take your lessons for living from the rich spirit of this culture.

Greece – My True Home.

The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece! Where burning Sappho loved and sung. Where grew the arts of war and peace,– Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung! Eternal summer gilds them yet, But all, except their sun, is set.
Author: Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron)
Source: Don Juan (canto III, st. 86)

Athens, the eye of Greece, mother of arts And eloquence.
Author: John Milton
Source: Paradise Regained (bk. IV, l. 240)

To Greece we give our shining blades.

Author: Thomas Moore
Source:¬†Evenings in Greece–First Evening

If noble death be virtue`s chiefest part, We above all men are by Fortune blest, Striving with freedom`s crown to honor Greece, we died, and here in endless glory rest РSimonides

Greece is like a mirror. It makes you suffer. Then you learn. To live alone? To live. With what you are.”

‚ÄĒ John Fowles.

In many ways we are all sons and daughters of Ancient Greece.

-Nia Vardolos

To describe Greece I would share with you a tomato on the sandy beaches of Skopellos, open a sea urchin with my penknife and serve you the scarlet eggs inside while the salt stretches the skin on our backs. – Nicholas Papandreou

© All Rights reserved Kim Koning.