From Melissa Lion at Metroblogging Portland I learned of Portland's latest creative-class diversion: the Writers Dojo, a membership-only "writers' space" where people go to, well, write things. Or, as the center's website puts it:
Writers' Dojo is a new, shared, creative office and center of excellence for serious writers...a homebase for that peripatetic café diaspora known as the writers' group.
Putting aside my vague concern about a center of writing excellence that doesn't seem entirely clear on the definition of diaspora, I clicked through to find out what amenities were offered, and at what price. The electrical outlets, the printers, the coffee, the Wi-Fi -- makes sense, all well and good. (The showers? I don't know, and I don't want to know.)
And all this can be yours, serious writer, for the low low price of...
...$120 a month.
$120 a month.
Once I scraped my jaw off my shoes, I burst out laughing thinking of the "serious writers" I know, and how many of them have an extra $120 per month of brass in pocket. (Answer: None...and if any of them did, they'd be spending it on books. Or charity. Or booze.)
Look: if spending $120 a month to write in public whips it on for some people, then God bless 'em and it's money well spent. But sitting around in a room with a bunch of other writers is the surest way for me to be not-writing (and I don't need any help on that front).
Writing, for me, has never been some communal activity. I'd rather do it in my own living room, in a pair of old sweats or boxers, not worrying about what I look like or how I smell. I have a printer, and a coffeemaker, and a shower, and all the professional accoutrements for which the Writers' Dojo would like to relieve me of $120 a month.
And if I want a change of scenery, I can take my laptop or a pad to the park, or to the neighborhood coffeehouse, or to the public library, which even has a beautiful room reserved for use exclusively by writers -- and it's free.
But, of course, it's not about writing; it's about being seen writing, and it comes from the same impulse that drives some people to join a country club and others to pay for a public humidor with their name on a brass plate, when a municipal tennis court or a cigar box at home would do. When the Writers' Dojo e-zine promises "podcasts, updates, party invites, and writers' resources," it's surely no accident in which order those things are listed.
I wonder what Walker Percy, a Pulitzer prizewinner who managed to scratch his writing-in-public itch at the Waffle House, for Christ's sake, would say about a "creative class" whose members paid $120 a month to swan around with their laptops, call themselves a "dojo," and find their muse in bamboo flooring.