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Embracing mediocrity with a stovetop mokapot

Since I was 10, I've written short stories, novels, screenplays, poetry. I have a Google drive full of drafts, half-written manuscripts (and yes, some published essays) to prove it.

I've also spent a lot of time being hard on myself. I am my biggest critic; a self-doubting perfectionist editing ever word as soon as it hits the page.

I'm not sure where the fear comes from (fear of failure, fear of success, fear of unintentionally harming someone with my storytelling) but it's there. Brewing.

It's been a challenge to overcome. However, during the last two years, I found a new morning routine that helps break my writer's block.

It began with my stovetop mokkapot and three lovely Bieffe writing journals gifted to me from a thoughtful friend (thank you, AA). Handmade in Italy, they were bound neatly with a string and had a note attached:

The note got me thinking. If these "defects" are part of the notebooks' artisan nature, perhaps my flaws should also be considered part of the process.

So every morning, in the quiet of my kitchen, I set the mokapot on the stove and began to write.

I had three rules. No editing, no judging, no stopping. Just write.

I called them coffee poems. Short one-page flashes like an espresso shot. Sometimes dark and hot other times con leche, stained with milk. The poem was complete before my perfectionist editor had a chance to show up. I put the pen to paper and when the coffee was brewed, it was done. I closed the journal and treated myself to a delicious coffee.

Cheryl Strayed, who wrote Wild (one of my favourite books) talks about mediocrity, especially when it comes to writing:

"I might be writing a mediocre book. I might be writing a book that nobody ever reads. And I just have to surrender to the truth of that, and I have to surrender to this notion that even if I am mediocre, what matters more to me than writing a great novel is writing a novel. And that was a huge lesson.”

Are my coffee poems mediocre?


But as Cheryl Strayed says, that's not the point. What matters is that I'm writing.


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