I’m sitting in a coffee shop, reading a book that was written in a coffee shop, about life in a coffee shop. Did you get that? I’m reading Finding Common Ground, by Lee Warren www.leewarren.info. It’s a book of contemplative essays written in 30 coffee shops in Omaha, Nebraska, the author’s hometown.
Why did he write it? His goal was to witness a “commonality” between the patrons, baristas and himself. We all have common needs. Common struggles. We all desire attention and to be recognized for who we are. In his own words, he was on a “pilgrimage of observation.”
“I wrote about what I observed and experienced. In some cases, what I observed or experienced were jumping off points for something I remembered. So there really isn’t a formula to these essays. If there was, it wouldn’t be a pilgrimage,” Warren says.
Why am I reading his book in a coffee shop? I want to experience his point of view, feel what he was feeling, in the environment he felt it. It’s working. I feel like I’m sitting alongside him, observing the world through his eyes. But that’s not all. I also want to discover jumping off points from his essays to help me write my own.
As I sip a White Chocolate Mocha, I’m reading his essay titled, “Staying in the Moment.” In it, he is comparing patrons who come into a coffee shop, grab their coffee and leave, with those who use the Drive Thru. Those who stop in, if only for a few minutes, appear to crave interaction, connection. He quotes C.S. Lewis: “We read to know we are not alone.” Warren concludes that we may visit coffee shops for the same reason.
In this essay, Warren’s observations about people needing connection serves as a jumping off point for me. It reminds me, as a writer, our readers need to interact, connect, and engage in the articles or books we write. They study our settings, our characters, and the predicaments we put our characters in—to find commonality, and conclude they are not alone.
I think Richard Paul Evans, bestselling author of The Christmas Box and The Walk series said it best regarding what our readers long for: “For every now and then, we find that one book that reaches us deep inside and introduces us to ourselves. And, in someone else’s story, we come to understand our own.”
That’s common ground. And there’s no better way to connect with your readers than to find it.
Lee Warren’s book, Finding Common Ground, can be ordered from his website www.leewarren.info or from Amazon.com. Finding Common Ground is a three-book series which includes: Common Grounds, Sacred Grounds and Higher Grounds. These titles are also sold separately.
WRITER-to-WRITER: Please comment on the best way you connect with your readers.