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Seán Dwyer

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It’s time to extend my Write Out range. I have never intended for all of my posts to be about Bellingham venues, though some of you may find it unfeasible to travel to Vancouver or Calgary to Write Out. I hope you’ll live vicariously through my experience when I visit those towns on behalf of the blog.

Today, I’m writing about a venue that is eminently practical for a Write Out, despite its twenty-minute distance from Bellingham. You’ll see in a moment why I visited the Jansen Art Center in Lynden, and its enclosed Firehall Café.

Here are the standard details for the Firehall Café:

Address: 321 Front Street, Lynden, WA
WiFi: free, secured
Music: quiet, jazzy that day
Tables: 6 tables in café, 8 seats at bar, three tables in piano bar
Outlets: three in piano bar
Clientele: art patrons
Gluten-free options: coming
Hours: 8am-4pm Tues-Sun, but 8am-8pm Thurs
12-oz cappuccino cost: $2.70 plus tax
Time allowed: 2+ hours
Parking: free on the street; some slots three-hour limit
Loyalty card: no

I was heading up to the Jansen Art Center to see some paintings installed there by Nancy Canyon, who is as good a writer as she is a painter. Her art will hang there through March 22. I thought I should test out the Firehall Café; where better to sit and be artsy than in an art gallery?

006 Jansen interior

It turns out I was right. The space is light and open, with stimulating visuals to encourage you when you look up from your screen or your paper. Writers are, of course, welcome, as would be any artists, except perhaps those guys who carve tree trunks with chainsaws. The staff are justifiably proud of their space, and the pervasive nature of the art is truly invigorating. The tabletops in the café feature reproductions of paintings by local artists. I can say I wrote on a Ben Mann print. Can you?

Part of the magic of the place comes from what happens when you’re not writing. Should you take a break? Here, by all means, do so. First of all, this former City Hall/Fire House/Jail has been repurposed by visionaries. Multiple staircases and ramps lead to different levels, all of which contain compelling art. The website tells you whose work you can see, as well as its nature, but it won’t tell you that the uniform high quality of the works on display will leave you craving more writing time when you’ve viewed it all.

It also won’t tell you what you’ll do if you fall in love with one of the pieces, which I did:

006 Jansen Rain Dancer

I now own this painting by Rachel Roberts, but you can view it until March at the Center, where I’ve left it hanging for the moment. Did I write better that day because I was wandering amid the intense creative energy flowing through the building? I believe it’s so.

While you’re looking around, you may find that you want to enroll in one of the classes offered for artists of many types. Check details on the website.

In a stand-alone setting, the café, with its colorful décor and glass wall (where the Lynden fire trucks used to exit the fire bay), would be a fine place to sit. There are pastries to snack on, in addition to the coffee options. One issue is the lack of outlets in the café proper; if you don’t come charged, sit in the piano bar, up a few steps from the café.

006 Jansen piano bar

If you’re Bellingham-based, the trip to Lynden may seem daunting, but if you visualize the outcome, you can drive up for a good Write Out, recharge with the art, and come home with a couple of thousand brilliant new words. And maybe a painting.

Reminder: The Red Wheelbarrow Writers field trip to Write Out at the Beach Store Café on Lummi Island takes place on February 9. Park somewhere downtown, and meet at the Rocket Donuts parking lot by 9:20. The minimum number of vehicles will go to Gooseberry Point. We’ll catch the 10:10 ferry to the island. The ferry costs $7 to go; the return trip is free. You must RSVP so we don’t drive off without you. If you think it’s too late to RSVP when you decide Friday night to come, show up by 9am and be alert for our gathering. We can’t leave late, because the Saturday ferry runs hourly.

006 Jansen me

And what have I accomplished this week, between my Writing In and my Writing Out? First of all, I got my nonfiction manuscript out the door to the Chanticleer Book Review contest. Then, to recap January as I did on Facebook: I got integrated into two writing groups, I connected to several amazing writers and artists, I got a blog underway, I got a book-length manuscript off to a contest, I contributed to the activities of one of the writing groups, I appeared at my first open mic, I Wrote Out with several writers, I didn’t get rejected by a magazine in which I really want to appear, and I got a story ready for submission. This is my second-best January ever, even counting the one where I started and almost finished a novel. It was topped only by the one in which my firstborn came into the world. What made it so fruitful? My commitment to write, because I’m holding myself accountable through the blog.

What have you written this week? Talk to you soon!

9 comments on “Write Out at the Firehall Café

  1. rebecca2000 says:

    I love it. (love the painting too) Good luck on the contest. I wish you the best.

    To answer your question, I write every day on my blog. It challenges my creativity to take a normal situation and make it funny.

    Keep up the good work!


  2. Boosie Vox says:

    This place is “new” to me- thanks for expanding my universe, Sean!

  3. This looks like an amazing place Seán! Very cool. Now, I need to drive all the way to Lynden! Dying to see this exhibit, and this place looks so very coolio. Love this one. Your work efforts stun me… back into my stuck corner. 😉

  4. Lish says:

    Such energy, Sean! What a wonderful painting – it says s-s-s-o-o-o much about the Pacific Northwest. (And, no, I don’t write everyday, but, when I do, I write hour after hour after hour.) Hey! More people like you than they did on Saturday. Congrats.

  5. Susan Chase-Foster says:

    Thanks for this one, Séan. Lynden also has some interesting “antique” shops so a day of writing, viewing, and snorkeling through old garden tools might be just the ticket!

  6. erinrenee22 says:

    Great post and wow for being so productive. I’m jealous!

  7. Looks like an inspiring place to write. I love that you bought a painting!

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