Liking Coffee Is NOT A Character Trait

Rich takes writers to task who measure themselves by their caffeine intake…

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WARNING: contains mild snarks.

I ‘like’ coffee. And tea. And an encyclopaedic drinks list of beverages hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, still and sparkling* and so on and so forth. Taking on fluids is a chief criterion for staying alive, isn’t it?**. How would a Bedouin get to draw his pension otherwise?  It’s rather like saying “I like air“. Everybody drinks something. Probably many different things. As it’s one of the most abundant and popular libations on the planet, coffee is quite likely to be one of them. Hardly marks you out from the crowd though, does it? I drink coffee. I love coffee! But I hope to Christ it’s one of the least interesting things about me, otherwise pour me a flat white, colour me boring and move on to someone with a better handle on what makes them interesting.

…but which of the coloured wires would diffuse the bomb in time?  “Christ,” thought Bond, “I could murder a latte…”

So, writers, a humble suggestion: maybe don’t emblazon “drinks coffee” across your Twitter profile, blog bio, or worse, your book bio, however true it is. Because boring. Because beige. Because beverage. Yeah, writers aren’t always blow-away interesting in person (conversations tend to begin, middle and end with their books), but don’t fall into the bland-trap of advertising the fact. Think of something else to say. Or say nothing.  “I like coffee” is a wide-armed, open-mouthed biographical yawn stretch, an admission you’ve drawn a blank on anything better to say about yourself. Worse, it pretty much amounts to saying “I am a dull and unimaginative writer. Buy my book. It features people who love coffee.”

So maybe think outside the cafetière.

Or lie, of course. You write, yes? You have an imagination? Then cook up a few curiosity-piquing whopperoos. When I’m asked to review books by unknown authors, I’m far more inclined to read the one by ‘shark-wrestling, fire-eating pogo champion’ Writer A than deadpan ‘coffee connoisseur’ Writer B.  Even if ‘shark-wrestling, fire-eating pogo champion’ Writer A sounds like she puts away more coffee than perhaps is good for her. The point is she damn well sounds interesting, so I’m guessing her characters might radiate a little of that bouncy, fish-wrangling fire too.


Drinks coffee. Still interesting.

It doesn’t hurt to jazz it up a little. Start with your coffee. I’ll have a goats’ milk skinny triple-whipple mocha-choco Americano cappuccino with almond syrup and Dream Topping. And, yes, my characters are interesting.

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not champagne though – way overrated; gives me heartburn and makes my breath smell like ‘horse compost’.

** so is letting them out the other end, but no-one ever states ‘I love to pee’ as an insight into their character, do they?

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