My Second Office

Writing full-time is a lonely enterprise.

Especially in the winter, and especially if you live in the boondocks, have only one car, and the closest semblance of civilization is a mile away.

I used to be content working alone from home all day long, but in the past year the silence has become oppressive. My only company where I live are the woodpeckers that gather out at the suet feeder. Unfortunately they’re not very good conversationalists.

Which is why, in recent months, I’ve been hiking into the Millbrook Diner every day.

Often before I even get inside, Kenny, Randi or Alex sees me coming from across the street, pours me a cup of coffee, and places it with the crossword puzzle at my regular seat. A small act that, more than anything, makes this writer feel a lot less lonely.

I always exchange hellos with Thanasi—the gracious owner—and sometimes I visit with other regulars—people whom I know only by first name, and with whom I interact only at the diner. Regulars like Bill, who, at close to 80 years old, walks five miles with his wife every day. Or Wayne, a fascinating, semi-retired man who flies planes and trains horses. Or Helen, an erudite Greek woman with a thousand stories to tell.

The Millbrook Diner. Best coffee in the county.

The Millbrook Diner. Best coffee in the county.

I like to read in the diner, but mostly I drink a lot of coffee there, and I write. (Popular definition of a writer: “a device that converts caffeine into words.”)

Over the years I’ve written and edited thousands of words in the Millbrook Diner. Stories. Journal entries. Executive speeches. Video scripts. Plays. And the Dakota novels (see ads to right). Most recently was a 10-minute play for an upcoming play festival.

Whatever I’ve been writing, I’ve found the mild noise of the diner to be creatively stimulating. Also, the familiarity of the people and the surroundings gives me a sense of community, of connection, that I need so I don’t feel so isolated.

Who would have thought that a diner could do all that?

The Millbrook Diner is my second office, and I thank Thanasi, his wife, and his staff for always making me feel so welcome.


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By Chris Orcutt

Writer — The Dakota Stevens Mystery Series, Short fiction, Plays — Editor & Speechwriter for Hire — Avid Golfer, Chess Player & Awesome Wood-Splitter — Twitter: @chrisorcutt

Comments (4)

  1. Paige February 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I love this story for some reason.

    • Chris Orcutt February 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Perhaps it’s because I show my vulnerability, the fact that writing truly is a lonely profession, and that little things make me feel less alone—like the waiter or waitress seeing me across the street and putting coffee and the crossword at my regular seat. Writing is a very lonely job, unfortunately, but it’s the work I’ve chosen, so I have nobody to blame but myself. This winter has been very, very hard up here, and it has taken a toll on me. I hope you’re faring better where you are. Thank you for commenting. —Chris

  2. Anne Marie deGraff April 17, 2013 at 2:36 am

    Very nice to read this! Glad you found a loving and sharing community in which to flourish. I look forward to your next Dakota book.