Feature: The Writers Cafe @ Settle Down
By Mellanie Moore on March 7, 2012 in Society
“We need The Writer’s Cafe because I have nowhere to write in my house.”
“What’s wrong with the loo?”
“Being in the loo is like being in a cafe, somebody always wants your place.”
Such is the response when the attendees of The Settle Down Cafe’s first Writer’s Cafe event are asked why such an event is necessary. The writer hogging the comfy corner in a cafe is to be expected, as much an accepted inconvenience as the burned coffee and and wobbly tables. Of course they have to endure gawking passers by and glares from proprietors.
Why is there no place in Newcastle for these corner-hogging socket-using keyboard-tapping cafe dwellers to gather? Marie Lightman and Jenni Pascoe have attempted to condense all of the city’s writers into bi-weekly collaborative meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, 9:30 til noon. Why has it taken this long for something so obviously necessary to manifest itself?
“I came up with the idea about four years ago, sitting in a cafe,” says Marie. “I felt frustrated I enjoyed writing out of the house but people would turn me out of the cafe. I needed somewhere to write. Like this, with no clutter.” Casting a sceptical eye over the countless writing guides, laptops and half eaten cake she says, “Well, it’s social clutter, something to write about.”
There’s a consensus among the group that there’s a dearth in the area of anywhere productive for writers to meet. People hide in corners of the Lit and Phil or one of Newcastle’s cafe’s. Or they find a writer’s group, but most of them charge. Happily, The Writer’s Cafe doesn’t, unless you want cake.
“There isn’t a social aspect to writing in a cafe anywhere else. It’s a very individual thing, or you can go to a writers group where it’s social but it’s very structured,” says Jenni. “We wanted somewhere between those two extremes. It’s casual and it’s social, but we incorporate things from the individual side and the structured side.”
The first meeting was more of a coffee and a chat to establish future plans, and Jenni is keen to state that they’re not ‘being precious’ about the structure of the meetings. The dozen or so attendees of the first meeting boasts poets, screen writers, novelists, play writes and journalists. However, Marie is keen to stress that any sort of words-to-paper activity is encouraged. “I’ve always said it doesn’t have to be a creative writing activity. It could be that you’re writing a report for work. Even people write something about say…science. They’re still writing.”
The Settle Down Cafe was chosen, according to Marie, on account of its excellent supply of electricity. “I walked in here and I thought ‘Yeah. They’ve got sockets, cool.’ The tables don’t wobble, they’re flat. They’re good for writing on. So, we set the date and had a launch party.” The fact that it seems to welcome being taken over by writers twice a week probably played some small part.
- The Freelancers Guide To Newcastle