Since You Asked
THE OTHER DAY I READ A POSTING on another blog that I follow:
He was asking about why people spend time doing their writing at St. Arbucks (The Patron Saint of Jittery People) instead of at home or in restraints or custody, or wherever. His approach was, in my opinion, rather scholarly. He spoke of brain function, past writers having secluded cottages, etc. I was impressed. I thought that I did a lot of my writing there simply because they made better coffee than me.
Writing at home, perched at the kitchen table, works fine for me as well. I set up the computer, get a beverage, and then get to it. Of course there are distractions, but the distractions are more varied and insistent at St. Arbucks. At home I don’t have an unending flow of people marching through, or a constantly changing background of music styles. Just in the few minutes I’ve been here today it has ranged from Do-Wop to Jazz to whiny Folk-Rock.
At home I have the TV on in the background and the home phone ringing every twenty minutes as software salespeople from India call, or local idiot scam artists pretending to be from “The Criminal Division of the IRS” interrupting my life. So you see there are distractions no matter where I go.
I usually hit the Chapel in the early afternoon. I get my coffee and try to get “my table,” in the corner near the Men’s Room (the coffee has a short residency). Most days I have a topic in mind ahead of time, but other days I have to just start typing and see what happens. It usually takes me about two hours to come up with 500 – 700 words that sort of make sense and then get them posted in a readable form.
My objective in all of this is to get myself back in the habit of writing on a daily basis and to use that groove as a launching pad to get me into my larger projects. Right now that means trying to salvage the roughly 30K words I have written as part of a sequel to an earlier novel. When I got to that 30K word point I realized that it just didn’t work and I didn’t like it all that much. The basic plot was good, but I was painting my characters into an inescapable literary corner. So, I let it sit and marinate for a while and now I’m trying to rescue it from my own slush pile.
I’m certainly not the only writer who comes in here to work. Not counting the college students who swarm here I would say that there are four or five other word wranglers whom I’ve spotted. It is easy to pick them out of the crowd – they are hunched over their machines and stop occasionally to mumble to themselves, take a sip or two, then re-hunch, rinse and repeat.
I come to St. Arbucks to work because I am able to tune out the noise and other distractions and I can normally get some usable work done. It also gets me out of the house and I consider walking to and from the car as a major portion of my exercise routine.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they have coffee.