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Seán Dwyer

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My first non-Bellingham Write Out went well, so I thought I’d do one off the mainland. I would have been fine with going island-hopping alone, but on February 9, I had the privilege of accompanying nine intrepid artists to the Beach Store Cafe on Lummi Island. We banded together as a result of a Red Wheelbarrow Writers notion to go to the island on a writing field trip. The idea turned out to be a really good one, and our chosen venue suited our needs admirably.

Lummi Island may seem to be a bit of a trek from Bellingham, but the six-minute ferry ride to the Beach Store Cafe puts just enough water between easily distracted writers and home that you’ll get some serious work done. For someone who needs that barrier, Lummi Island is the perfect retreat.

Here are the standard details for the Beach Store Cafe:

Address: 2200 N. Nugent Road, Lummi Island, WA
Wi-Fi: free, secured
Music: quiet, varied
Tables: 7 four-tops, 3 two-tops
Outlets: several
Clientele: local
Gluten-free options: yes
Hours: 11am-8pm Thurs, 11-9 Fri, 9-9 Sat, 9-8 Sun
12-oz cappuccino cost: $3.25 plus tax
Time allowed: 2+ hours
Parking: free
Loyalty card: no

The most obvious facts about the Beach Store Cafe are that you can reach it only by taking the ferry, and that you can face the water while you write. You don’t need to take your car on the ferry; the Beach Store is a very short walk from the ferry dock.

The café is airy, with a good supply of windows. In summer, you can sit on the front porch, but on any clear day, you can use Mt. Baker as a source of inspiration.

007 Beach Store Baker porch

You’ll probably want to come in the morning and leave in the afternoon, and the café has a variety of options to keep you from starving while you work. Weekend breakfasts, full lunch, dinner, and pizza menus, and an espresso bar are all available. Happy hour gets you discounts on beer and wine. Also, as a first-time feature on the blog, the Beach Store has worked with me to provide a special offer to writers who come and work awhile. If you spend $20, you’ll get 10% off your bill. Just ask for the Dwyer Café Discount.

007 Beach Store coffee

The Beach Store dining room is adjacent to the kitchen, but I didn’t find the cooking noises distracting. The music was also at a comfortable background level. The lunch crowd provided a gentle murmur to the proceedings, but if you’re used to dead silence when you write, no Write Out will be perfect for you.

007 Beach Store pizza oven

One truly beautiful aspect of the café is the management’s dedication to supporting artists. You can see the work of local painters on the walls, and the staff are very willing to nurture writers who come out to work. You won’t find more gracious, welcoming hosts, and the food available to you will keep your palate stimulated, as well as your mind.

007 Beach Store interior art

As for the field trip itself, I enjoyed very much working with Cami Ostman, Janet Oakley, Kari Neumeyer, Jolene Hanson, Susan Chase-FosterDawn Quyle Landau, Andrea Gabriel, Laura Rink, and Ellen Starr. We arrived at 10:15,  wrote through two meals until 3:30, read our output until 4:45, and took the 5:00 ferry back to Gooseberry Point. My work for the day involved editing a novel-length work I wrote in 2009; I read the first 99 pages of the 425-page manuscript. Lots of good writing came of this field trip, and the reading was energizing. Tess and the Beach Store staff made the visit comfortable, and the writers made it memorable for me.

007 Beach Store exterior with writers

We’ll be doing trips back to Lummi, as well as to other remote locations, so keep an eye on this space for updates. I would love to Write Out with you somewhere at some point.

007 Beach Store me

And what have I accomplished this week, between my Writing In and my Writing Out? I got a story submitted to Memoir Journal, I started reading a novel-length thing out loud for a final check of the prose, and I continued the editing work I began on Lummi Island.

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

6 comments on “Write Out Field Trip at Beach Store Cafe

  1. What a wonderful day! You’ve captured this nicely Seán.

  2. Thanks also for the links!

  3. Great view you’ve got there for writing!

    Inspires me to do something like this here in San Francisco.

  4. Looking forward to coming to you next one! And this blog comes just in time as my husband has some land clearing to do on Lummi, and I will go to the Cafe to write.

  5. Susan Chase-Foster says:

    As always, you nailed this wonderful resource for writers and other artists.

  6. Laura Rink says:

    Nice write up, Sean. It was a fun and productive day for me. Thanks for making it happen.

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