Sharyn Inzunza: March 2015 Barefoot Writing Challenge Winner

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Barefoot Writer Sharon

Barefoot Writer Sharon Inzunza

Congratulations to Sharyn Inzunza for Winning the March 2015 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The Challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:

Do you have any unusual writing habits? What are they and how do they help (or hurt) you?

Drawing on her national and cultural identity, Sharyn explains a daily ritual that has become closely interwoven with her writing. Enjoy her winning submission.

I’m on a Writing Roll — It Must Be Time for a Cup of Tea

By Sharon Inzunza

I call it the punctuation of my writing soul. It’s when I am clicking away on the keyboard, the ideas are flowing, and the words are aligning like perceived magic.

Then, it’s time for a cup of tea.

Tea, for me, and I would boldly state, for so many Australians, and, of course, in all humble recognition, the citizens of the United Kingdom, is intrinsic to who I am. I do not remember not drinking tea. We drank it with our meals (with the green aluminum pot at the end of the table) and for morning and afternoon tea. No pretenses, just a good cup of tea.

Culturally, it services so many of our often unspoken needs: an understood offering for a friend at the door, a soother for stress and sadness, a drink offered at social gatherings — or taken in solitude. Tea is our thirst-quencher on a scorching day (hot, of course, not iced).

Tea fuels my writing, in a sense. I am programmed to stop for morning and afternoon tea (breaks imprinted on the Australian psyche). But it also quenches my writing brain. I don’t stop for a “cuppa” when I’m stuck for the next thing to say. I stop when I’m on a roll, almost as a way to reel in my racing thoughts. I walk upstairs, put on the electric jug, and make a cup of tea: hot, bag-in-strong, and with a dash of milk.

With my cup of tea, which I have to drink kettle-hot, I return to my desk and reread what I’ve written. My thoughts seem to align by the end of the cup, readying me for the next paragraphs. In the warmth of that ancient and culturally-valued drink — like an unassuming companion — I write again, moving forward, creating with clarity, my stories and content.

Sometimes I wonder if I am doing the right thing, relying on the power of tea. After all, I stop in full writer mode, like some madman has flicked on a switch, sending me trance-like in search of hot water and tea bags. I wonder sometimes if it is a distraction, maybe causing me to lose precious momentum and time.

But I ignore the doubts, because I recognize the benefits of stopping for a cup of tea. I am turning to something that has soothed me my whole life. It’s a beverage with the power to order the cacophony of ideas racing through my mind and out my fingers, providing a higher-level punctuation in my writing mind.

I write every day. If I’m lucky, I write the entire day. In the quietness of my office, with just me, the soft clicks of the keyboard, and my internal voice, I frequently pause for a cup of tea: as programmed, as needed, as desired.  

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17 Comments

  1. How beautifully penned, Sharyn! #HUGSSS

    This is the most beautiful tribute to a beverage that I have ever read!

    Drink more tea, reap more rewards, flash more smiles – enjoy more success!

    MUCH love
    Kitto

    • Kathrika – thank you for lovely comment. I have found that when you live outside your country, cultural habits (that are simply part of life back home) become sacred; they keep you connected to your place of origin.

  2. Lovely, makes me wish to have a ritual. Enjoyed the relation of ritual and tea, the description of how you feel lucky to write all day… I know we will see much more from you. Congratulations on the prize.

    • Hi, Astrid,

      Sometimes our rituals are discreet or not fully recognized. As I wrote my story, I discovered how deep my tea ritual runs. That was neat.

      Ah, the ritual of tea! I feel there is much to write about there – to maybe explore the rituals of tea-drinking across cultures…

      Thank you so much for lovely comment.

  3. Margaret James on

    I enjoyed reading Sharyn’s story about drinking tea.
    T- Time to gather thoughts.
    E- Energy giver
    A- Action will happen
    Congratulations on winning. I’ll have a cuppa for you.
    Margaret

    • Hi, Marg,

      I love it!

      That absolutely sums up the power of tea.

      Thank you so much for your comment, and I’ll have a cuppa for you, too 🙂

  4. Carole Gaston on

    You make this coffee-drinking American yearn for a cuppa. Never has that happened to me before, even in a Chinese restaurant! You made me feel your words!

    • Hi, Carole,

      Ah, the art of persuasion – I love it!

      It might be time to break out the fine china and put the kettle on. I’ll supply the tea 🙂

      Thank you for your comment.

  5. Nancy C Moore on

    I really enjoyed the simplicity of the article, and was very well penned as stated above. It is wonderful to be able to be inside ones head, so to speak :~) , and be able to relate to writing habits of a person.

    By, the way I have switched to tea (black) from coffee with cream because it has made me feel better.

    Loved the article thx so much, and congratulations. :~D

    • Hi, Nancy,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      I hope you enjoy the switch to tea…and you went to black tea! (no sugar or milk to ‘soften’ it) – impressive 🙂

      Cheers

  6. Shaz: A smart doff of my cap to you. Your piece was clear, concise, colorful and as you Aussies are fond of saying, “spot on.” Well done.

    Your article hit a responsive cord with me. My introduction to “white tea” came about in 1957 when I was stationed with the 20th Fighter Bomber Wing in Weathersfield, England. During my initial visit to the town of Braintree I wandered into the “Dog Inn” for a bit of refreshment. Since it was mid-morning I was offered and accepted a cup of white tea. Of course, I had no clue what I had ordered. I ordered tea because I didn’t want to seem like a foreigner which of course I was. I am proud to confess that my love affair with this haughty concoction has endured over the years. Quite naturally, I insist on more than a dash of milk in mine.

    • Hi, Ricardo ‘Dad,’

      Thank you so much for your comment and for your great story. That’s fantastic! What a great snippet of history. Of course, I have a ton of questions now:
      I imagine there were pretty strict rules about serving hours back then (as in alcohol) at the inn – were you there for morning tea?
      Did they give you a choice of black or white tea? Maybe it went something like: “That’ll be a white, then, luv?”
      What did you have with it (that’s also important!)?

      Finally, it would’ve been lovely to share a cuppa with you in that setting.

      Cheers

  7. RockyBallad on

    Sharyn – congratulations on your winning entry! Lifetime habits that are so ingrained seem so natural. I refer to being focused and on a roll with a project as being ‘In The Zone’. In my case, being in The Zone allows for no distractions because my focus can be so intense. The phone could ring, the dog could be barking at the front door, well, just about any conceivable interruption…and I just cannot stop. We are all ‘wired’ differently, but if it works, keep it up. 🙂

    • Hi Rockyballad,

      I would love to have your kind of focus; it’s enviable! I typically feel I have have to have everything done before I sit down to write, and that’s dangerous. (Lining up the planets really puts a damper on my start time.)
      When I get in ‘the zone,’ though, I’m fine…but by no means at your tune-everything-out level. Bravo!
      Thank you for your comment.

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