If I won the lottery I would open a coffee shop for writers, where writers can caffeinate and dream and write in peaceful, aesthetically pleasing, and food-and-coffee laden surroundings.
It will open its doors at 1130am, perfect for late lunches of pasta, sandwiches, and hearty soup. After that, you can settle down to write, with a potful of coffee by your side and your choice of dessert beside it. Waiters will only murmur gently when they take your order, and then leave you alone, not to disturb you again except when you summon them for a refill or another slice of pie or to give you your bill when you ask.
They will never ask you to leave, even if it’s late. The manager will merely dim the lights gradually as a signal for closing time, which is at 430am, just before sunrise. Then you can move to a breakfast place for eggs and bacon or arroz caldo and go home and sleep. Most writers are more productive at night and the wee hours, anyway, because then there are no more interruptions – phone calls, meetings, and excited people rushing up to you to gab about one thing or another, that may or may not be interesting. Usually it’s not.
There will be free wifi with the strongest possible signal obtainable, and plentiful sockets for Macs and netbooks and mobile phone chargers and tablets inset along the baseboards and on the floor. The password for the wifi will change everyday: “tolkien”, “nickjoaquin”, and “arabica” will be some of them. Because the owner is a writer, and knows a great many words, no password will ever be used twice.
For those who prefer to write in longhand, bottles of Waterman ink in blue-black and South Sea blue (a lovely turquoise) will be offered on a tray to refill a fountain pen, on the house. Other inks of different brands and vintages – J. Herbin, Diamine, Pilot Iroshizuku, Private Reserve, Sailor, Noodler’s - will be listed on a special menu, like fine wines. Notebooks with guaranteed fountain-pen friendly paper will be offered on the menu’s reverse side – Clarefontaine, Rhodia, Daycraft, Green Apple.
Regulars will have their own personal reserved spaces in quiet corners. My friends will have their own personal chairs with nameplates affixed to the backs, and no one else would be allowed to use those chairs.
There will be a few paintings and photographs on the wall, but most of the space will be taken up with books on shelves, wall-to-wall. Anyone may read them on the premises. There will be memorabilia from writers – one of Butch Dalisay’s baseball caps or old Macs, Jing Hidalgo’s lipstick, a book of poetry by Gemino Abad, with the poet’s annotations in the margins.
At night, around six o’clock, the place will turn into a bar, with beer and nuts and sizzling sisig, so that writers so inclined may get drunk and maudlin and reminisce about the good old days, or raucous and combative and rehash old grudges, as they are so moved. Maybe over the kibitzing a story or poem idea may be born, collaborations made, and money-making schemes hatched.
On weekend nights there will be poetry readings, or open-mic nights, where anyone who wishes can strum the guitar, sing the blues, or perform stand-up comedy.
A dream coffee-shop? A sanctuary of the mind? Who’s to say it cannot come true?
I will buy a lottery ticket tomorrow.