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Ashley Jiao / Columbia Daily Spectator

Unbeknownst to you, the man sitting next to you in the Hungarian Pastry Shop the other day was, in fact, writing a character based on you for his MFA creative writing thesis.

The thesis, titled “The Girl At The Coffee Shop,” will include a character loosely based on you, described as someone who “behind the glasses, was actually hiding a beautiful face.”

Elliot Walden is currently pursuing a fiction MFA at Columbia University and goes to the Hungarian Pastry Shop with his 75-pound typewriter, refusing to leave until he has “been sufficiently inspired,” or alternatively, “found his muse.”

For the full hour that you were there, Walden was only pretending to read Ulysses by James Joyce as he conceived the one-of-a-kind character based on you, that had “rosy apple cheeks” and “listened to The Smiths.”

Although you have long, straight brown hair, Elliot has elected to give the character dyed blue hair that “misbehaves” and “falls softly like rain” across your face. Your order of chocolate cake and chai tea has become a metaphor for your character’s existential dread—a dread that can only be alleviated by falling in love with the male protagonist, a character coincidentally also named Elliot.

Since your visit to the Hungarian Pastry Shop, “The Girl At The Coffee Shop” has been workshopped in class, where it was criticized for having a female character that “lacks inner life.” Walden has passionately rejected these critiques and has submitted his book for publishing under the category “feminist,” explaining to his class and literary agencies that the character was based on a “real-life woman.”

Venice Ohleyer is a junior in Columbia College majoring in creative writing from Brooklyn, New York. You may have seen her performing comedy on campus or recognize her really bright rainbow backpack. You also may have noticed her because her hair always falls perfectly and softly like rain across her face. Venice can be reached at or via Instagram or Twitter.

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Hungarian writing MFA manic pixie dream girl
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