Coffee Shop Writers and Literary Fiction

I just read another author’s blog post about writing in public. What’s up with that? Since when, to be a real writer, do you have to practice your art in front of everyone?  I’ve always viewed people who purposefully write in public as pretentious and more in love with the idea of being a writer rather than actually writing.

I do my best work alone with a pot of coffee in the comfort of my own home. I don’t have time to dreamily hang out in a cafe or coffee shop just to show the world I’m actually writing. I can do without the distraction. I don’t know about all of you other writers out there, but when I’m writing I tune the rest of the world out and completely retreat into the world in which I’m writing.

Probably not a good idea for a 5’2″ woman to be alone in a coffee shop, lost in her own world when a thief comes along and snatches her handbag. No?

Now onto another point that I always hear when I hang out in writer’s groups for too long. “More people need to write literary fiction instead of all this genre crap!” Seriously? Earlier today I sat and listened to a rant by a woman who bitched about genre fiction as if it was the bane of all existence and how more people should be writing “literary” fiction. (ala Oprah Bookclub style)

I tried my hand at literary fiction in college. Even got it published in The Rose Thorn literary e-zine years later, and again in an Indian literary journal. It was a short fantasy story called The Elements of Warfare. I guess it got published because it was so relevant to our modern age of the war on terror.  Oh – and did I mention it was fantasy? Yes, I did.

Anyway – it seems to me most literary fiction types are just snobs. They knock genre fiction because they’re jealous. Probably jealous because they can’t write their way out of a box. When people criticize their work they can use the excuse it’s because the rest of us uneducated derelicts just “don’t get it”. After all – we’re too busy spending millions on brain-candy vampire novels to know “good literature” when we see it.

Blow me.

I, and millions of readers, do know a good story when we see it. Good stories are about characters – not stroke of literary genius and metaphors up the wazoo. Some of the best literature falls in the category of genre fiction. Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Shelley’s Frankenstein, and even Beowulf — all fantasy.  Frankenstein by today’s standards might even fall into horror or science fiction as well.  Look at Edgar Allen Poe. Do I really need to say more?  Oh – and on the subject of vampires I have one word. “Dracula“.  I rest my case (or rant as it were).

About Steph

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at

2 Replies to “Coffee Shop Writers and Literary Fiction”

  1. Gotta admit Steph, that I've been guilty of writing on the train and in the odd coffee shop. either cause I'm bored and passing the time before a friend gets there or just because I don't want to forget the rather brilliant idea thats popped into my head :o)


  2. But that's different. I'm guilty of doing the same. I also realize there are people who have roommates or who can't write at home due to some distraction so they go to a public place to work on their writing. I also realize some critique groups meet in coffee shops. These aren't the people I'm talking about either. The ones I'm talking about are the people who really do believe writers hang out in coffee shops all day writing and try to follow that stereotype because they think it makes them look the part to others. They actually make plans to go to the coffee shop specifically for the purpose of writing, not because they belong to a group of writers who meet there, or because it's an actual necessity or matter of convenience, but rather because it helps them portray an image. I met a few of these kinds of folks back in college and I think I met one of them today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


What is 13 + 6 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)