11 p.m. on a Saturday night in Boston. You walk down an unfamiliar street and peer into an unfamiliar doorway. The lights are on, but nothing and no one distinguishable can be seen from outside. A certain quality of the light draws you inward. The room is warm, almost uncomfortably so. From behind the next door, you hear an incessant clicking and clacking, as though the room contains an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters.
Your curiosity piqued, you venture to open the door. It creaks, but whoever is making the typing noise couldn’t possibly have heard. A dimly lit hallway opens before you. You walk down the hall to find a room that seems more cramped than it actually is, and huddled around desks are at least a dozen people, some writing in notebooks, others on laptops, and two, yes, on typewriters. Paper is scattered about, often crumpled. You’re surprised that the room smells more like fast food than cigar smoke. None of them glance up from their work.
What is this place? As much as you’d like to know, you feel as though asking someone for an explanation would be an interruption of something sacred. A man with a beard not dissimilar to Hemingway’s suddenly acknowledges your presence.
“You must be the new one,” he says. He gives you no time to deny it. “Well, you know what to do.”
“Sorry, no I don’t,” you explain. “I just sorta wandered in.”
“So did I one night. Most of us hadn’t heard about it before we came. This is Write Club.”
“You mean like—”
“Don’t,” he cuts you off and points to a sign on the wall. It reads: “First rule of Write Club: Don’t talk about Fight Club. It’s been overdone for years now.”
“So what, exactly, is Write Club?”
“This,” he answers, gesturing to the others. For some reason, that was helpful. “We’re here every weekend. Not because it’s a job, not for money, but just to get away, to sit down—”
“I told you that you knew what to do.” With that, he sits back down; it was all he needed to say.
As though it was the source of source of some great gravity, you find yourself walking to a desk, sitting down, and opening a notebook. You glance at the other writers and sense that you’ve known them all along. Picking up a pen, you look down upon the blank page and begin to write the following: “Why didn’t I come up with this idea?”