I run a little artisanal cheese shop called Oka Cheese, located in a very tiny corner of a very large metropolitan area. Oka is a quiet place filled with calmly quiet people—the exception being one Kristin D. Wald— and no one bothers me here.
As you walk in the front door of Oka Cheese, there is not much to see. I mean, there’s cheese. Hand-crafted, flavorful, on display for those who enjoy such things. In the back room is a mammoth espresso machine better suited for a bustling restaurant. It was given to me by a friend, and beneath my protests of where can it fit, I made room and set up a few tables on each side of it. My quiet friends, here on break from whatever happens to be their usual, read and write copiously. Don’t ever ask them what it is they are writing. On break from whatever happens to be their usual, they will share when ready.
Occasionally, we entertain the curious. Samplers, people incredibly surprised how perfect tastes the espresso, wanderers. The ones with notebooks and pens belong to me. Fiddling with a drawing pad? Over to Flood—whether you knew it or not, our mixed media workshop opens at three, and you and your drawings are right on time.
A little jittery after two or three cups of an Oka double shot? We cannot get Kristin to stop reading “passages” from Fifty Shades to the feral cats lounging for shade and water under the old oak just off the patio. Please join her out back. Watch out for the broken step right outside the door. Our handyman isn’t very handy during Christian Grey story hour.
“You guys carry any deli meats? You know, like sausages?”
I get this question five times a day and even with KD way in the back staging her one-woman flat Earth porn revue, I can still hear her stifling a giggle from the innuendo.
We do not carry deli meat. We do serve artisanal cheese and a damn fine espresso. I offer to show the questioner how to find the deli six blocks away.
Our new guest graciously waves away my written directions and takes a seat. I am more than delighted when she pulls a worn copy of No One Writes to the Colonel from her bag. The fastest way to my soul is through Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Somewhere in the shop, there’s a low rumble of an exchange. “The cheese is wonderful,” the murmur begins, “and I know for a fact the espresso has improved my sex drive 100 times over since I found this place, but it would be nice if…”
Flood peers over her glasses at me from across the room. It starts, her eyebrows say to me, and she’s back to gluing her collage of yellowed photos and dried leaves before I can brow anything back in despair.
“…it would be nice if Oka did indeed carry deli meats. Every day, people ask me why doesn’t Oka carry deli meats and I don’t really have a good answer. And sometimes, I’m here all day sampling cheeses and sipping this damn fine espresso, and by the time I’ve gotta go, I don’t have time to stop for toilet paper at Super Target or socks or, God, I’ve been needing masking tape forever, and I’m just saying it would be something toward the common good if Oka Cheese were Oka Super Target.
“Don’t get me wrong, Erica, I love this place. The cats, the cheeses, the collage classes, these little teeny tiny cups of your friend’s espresso—why don’t you charge for the espresso, you could make good money, I really don’t get that—it’s just that it would work out better for me if while we were all here together escaping from our usual, you could open up a tire and lube service, Kristin could run it, and I could get my tires changed at Oka Tire and Lube right here inside of Oka Super Target. I’ve never really liked cheese anyway, but you guys are nice. Damn fine espresso.”
By now, Kristin and her “handyman” and their entire jittery audience have shooed away the cats and are standing inside for what they know to be the actual show. Flood is collaging the hell out of her dried leaves, but I know she’s listening. She’s always listening.
I grab a bongo drum, a wool beret and the mic I keep under the main cheese display. Someone instinctively dims the lights while my bedazzled Freddie Mercury t-shirt catches the last glint of twilight. I begin to reveal the secrets of the universe, particle by particle, brought together in one big bang, making the world a damn fine espresso.
Oka Cheese, more commonly known as yeah write, is:
- the smaller blogger’s long lost tribe, the Okaformee Moonshiners. Mascot: four beautiful people soaking in a bubble bath of gin. Official flower: the iPad.
- when we are on our best behavior, a blog reader’s paradise. There are no commercial or gimmicky sponsored posts snuck onto the grid. The casual surfer can stumble over us, click a thumbnail and start reading what we know will be a pretty decent personal narrative. Super Target can’t make nearly that same promise.
- a surprisingly fun way to spend Tuesday through Thursday in good company while other, more dramatic, yet somehow less important, shiz is going down on the Internet.
- experienced writers helping emerging writers helping beginning writers struggle with the decision of writing for a public audience. We do not abandon our beginning writers who speak up and don’t quit.
- an open community where writers and bloggers can submit when they want and not submit when they don’t want. When you finally get bored with our shenanigans and unsubscribe, I heal my broken feelings with a new design element. True story. Typeface, graphic or WordPress template. Sometimes sushi.
Yeah write is not:
- for everybody. And that’s okay. We all have personalities and working styles best taken in small doses, and mine come with a really long list of contraindications. Take me with food, hard liquor and a big chunks of dark, cynical humor.
- your writing partner. If you don’t have one, find one. Start looking here if you like, search a few writing groups, but beware the hidden agenda. Some people live to discourage the dreams of others. And some don’t know enough about the process, about the art, to be considered your writing equal. You need a writing partner, not an intern.
- a replacement for a writer’s workshop or an instructor-led class. Sometimes, you just need to be in the same room with the person you’re trusting with your hard work.
- your first drafts folder. Bring your best stuff doesn’t always mean bring it right now. It never means bring the best you happen to have on you, cohesive narrative be damned. Bring us your best stuff when you know it’s gonna be the best on the grid. Ask your writing partner or your writing class instructor for a quick read-through if you’re not feeling very best stuffy.
- in the mood for people trawling the published challenge grid submissions wondering aloud how “she got on” or “why is that one getting so many votes?” Lemme answer: sometimes there are bloggers who followed the submissions guidelines on the first, second or third try, so that’s how they got on. And sometimes there are writers whose passion showed through or whose story was more original than anyone else’s and that’s why they are getting the votes (or the editors’ picks). Mad they keep winning? Write something better.
Super Target is about a 20-minute walk from here, but why don’t you wait and go with me this weekend? I love Super Target as much as the next girl needing new socks, but for now yeah write #72 is open: artisanal cheese and a damn fine espresso…
yeah write #72 optional writing prompts
- Do not mention anywhere in your post, either as intro or footnote, that you are writing to a prompt.
- We want the story the furthest away in your imagination from the original prompt. Let your imagination loose.
- Keep your writing style! Do you tell stories with humor? Prose? Verse? Photos? Illustrations? Keep doing that.