I worked at a small San Diego coffee shop during the onset of the recession. The chalk board that rested by the register on the counter was used to announce specialty drinks, but a friend and I began posting our favorite quotes. After erasing one from Bob Marley, I wrote my own, which I remember going something like this: In hard times, the human spirit learns to fight, and therefore is driven to create art.
The first time I considered my writing to be art was when I first understood why abstract art is art. The canvas may be covered with splatters of paint, but each splatter is exactly where the creator intended it to be. When I write a story, I might choose to call a subject “pioneering” instead of “innovative” not only because the latter is overused to the point of nullification, but also because “pioneering” brings up images of literal gold diggers working with their hands to build a life. I never want to just tell a series of events – I want the story to ebb and flow like a river rapids and draw a reader into the experience like a guy in a canoe.
This is why my favorite drink is a caramel macchiato. Because the syrup is at the bottom and the frothy milk put in second with the shots poured through the middle third, the drink is enjoyed in stages. The first sips taste like a plain latte but slowly grow stronger until the end is very, very sweet, making the drink more of an experience and less of a beverage. And, the secret is that even though there’s caramel sauce decorating the foam on top, the syrup in the bottom is actually regular vanilla.