Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bo's Cafe Life

Today Jungle Red Writers welcomes Wayne Pollard, author of Bo’s Café Life, his look at the writing life through the eyes of Bo, an aspiring novelist. Bo spends his time in a café writing and talking to other writers who are also on the quest to get a book deal. Take it away Wayne!

WAYNE: I became a writer by choice – just not mine. I was fired from my last position as the marketing director of a software company. Believing that I should live each day as if it was my last, I gave the president of the company a piece of my mind. This made it rather awkward for me when, apparently, I didn’t die that night.

After I got fired I was angry and I used this to write an article that was published in CIO (Chief Information Officer). CIO was a difficult magazine to get published in and the editor I worked with told me that as a writer, I was either very good or very lucky. That’s when I realized that I was a writer.

Although I created Bo’s Café Life, I am not a cartoonist; I am a writer who’s pretty damn good at drawing cups. I use the cups as a means of showing the strip’s setting: a café.

Like Bo, I spend a lot of time writing in cafés. I go to a café nearly every day and there are two things I know for sure. First, never have two large coffees and a bran muffin before sitting on an hour-long bloggers panel. Second, cafés are not just about the coffee.

I write in cafés because they make me feel more creative. And if I don’t feel more creative, at least I look more creative. Yes, the coffee in cafés can be overpriced, but it’s worth it. I’ve considered trading down but my muse doesn’t do fast food.

Just prior to creating Bo’s Café Life I was feeling down because another agent had decided not to represent me. I wasn’t surprised; I had written a satire about the civil rights movement that guaranteed I wouldn’t get a book deal. I was sitting in a café, telling my frustrations to a chai latte and a blueberry muffin, when the idea of writing a comic strip that takes place in a café hit me.

I knew that I wouldn’t be very good at drawing faces: I wanted to stick with drawing cups. I remembered seeing a few Doonesbury strips that didn’t have people in them, just dialogue and a drawing of something, such as the White House. So, I knew that strips without people had been done before and that I could do it, too. I’ve always liked reading about the relationships between famous writers, such as Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I wanted to capture some of that but with humor.

Bo’s Café Life is primarily about determination and persistence; Bo is determined to get a book deal. That’s what the strip is really about, pushing on with a dream despite the tremendous odds you face. And Bo will keep trying.

Good luck to you and Bo! Read more comic strips here. And Wayne and Bo are standing by to take your comments and questions.


  1. I had never seen this comic strip before - what a hoot! Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Jungle Red Writers!

  2. Thank you, Sue! I'm glad that you like it.

  3. And Wayne, very sorry for my error in the tags--I know it's Pollard, not Pollack! I'm afraid to change it now because of the whims of blogger...

    and PS you never had a chance to tell us what you're writing now, aside from Bo's Cafe Life?

  4. "the whims of blogger" I definitely understand!

    I'm working on a sitcom pilot for a production company. (I'm reviewing the director's edits right now.) I also have a collection of humor that is being considered by an agent. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

  5. Wayne, I totally agree with your cafe = creativity comment. I hang out at two. Both are near an army reserve HQ and a state police station, which provide the perfect work ambiance. No goofing around with troopers and soldiers constantly in and out. Not that I'm paranoid or anything, LOL.

    I wish Bo great good luck with his novel.

  6. Thanks, Ramona - Bo appreciates it!

    And about writing in a cafe filled with troopers and soldiers- I know what you mean! There is a police officer in my neighborhood who likes to frequent the cafe that I write it. One day, he started asking me questions about the piece I was working on. I don't know why, but I got really nervous! I didn't know if he was just curious about my story or if I was being investigated for splitting infinitives or having dangling participles or something.

  7. Welcome Wayne,

    What a great idea!! And what a creative reaction to getting fired.

    On cafes: I always think about taking my laptop to a cafe, but then I think about all the other files I'd also want to take with me, so I never do it.

    But you are giving me terrific inspiration.

    Best of luck on the pilot and the novel!

  8. Thanks, Jan!

    Actually, I prefer to write in journals and notebooks. I usually have about three journals/notebooks with me at all times. And, since I really believe in writing in journals, I often give journals to other writers. I hate not having something to write in.

    I took my kids to the movies yesterday and, you guessed it, I brought one journal into the theater - just in case!

  9. Hey, Wayne - your strips sounds great! Perfect for the struggling writer--is there any other kind? And I like that you channeled your rage to get it started.

    I try to write in cafes, especially when I'm stuck in a plot cul de sac (another good cartoon), but what drives me batty is the musak. How do you tune it out? I tried earplugs...not strong enough.

  10. Thanks, Hallie! And thanks for the "stuck in a plot cul de sac" idea!!

    I really do think that being a writer is about struggling: struggling to write, struggling to get published, and struggling to get paid!

    Typically, the music in the cafes I write in isn't too loud. Still, there are times when the music just isn't conducive to writing. It's either too loud or it ruins the cafe mood. For example, I was in a cafe two weeks ago and dance/club music was being blasted! I only stayed for an hour. Fortunately, there are three cafes in my neighborhood; when I don't like one, I just pack up my journals and go to another. I guess I'm lucky.

  11. I've just gotta say that Bo's Cafe Life is genius. Keep going strong Wayne! And keep the humor coming.

  12. Thanks, Derrick!!

    Derrick's comment actually serves as a great segue. Where do I get ideas for my strip? I get them from my journals and notebooks (about fifteen years worth of writing) and from people who inspire me. For example, I read the first chapter of Derrick's YA fantasy novel and was inspired to write the "Fairy Language" strip that was posted on January 16th. And the "I'm not out of work! I'm a writer!" strip was the result of an incident that actually happened to me.

  13. Hey Wayne:

    Love the comics. Thank you for visiting!

    And I howled with laughter at the story of the cups. I once had an idea for a comic--how many thousands of people have started a sentence with those words in a conversation with you??--but when I realized I couldn't draw at all, I was stymied.

    Then I came up wth the solution: Amoeba Amigos.

  14. Thank you, Hank! Yes, I have heard, "I once had an idea for a comic" a lot. Then again, I once had an idea for a mystery novel! How many times have YOU heard that?!!

  15. Thanks, again, Jungle Red Writers. I appreciate it!