I’m a coffee shop kinda writer. You know the type, sitting in the coffee shop, laptop open, earphones in, typing away and, when asked, “I’m working on my next novel!”
Yes. It amuses me to be a stereotype.
But it’s funny because that stereotype is part of why I love to be in coffee shops, writing. When people look at me, I want them to see a writer and I want to be that writer. So it’s much easier for me, trying to prove all these strangers who probably aren’t even paying a lick of attention to me, to just sit and concentrate on writing. Essentially, instead of distractions, I have a room full of accountability, because I am a writer, and writers write in coffee shops (not play on the internet…which I do sometimes too. But I write much more.)
This isn’t to say I can’t write at home. I can, but home is very distracting to me. There’s the people in the house to pay attention to, the chores, the dog, the tv, the kitchen full of enticing food I could eat, all instead of writing. This means that writing at home means either sitting my booty down and saying I can’t get up for a full hour, locking myself into a room, or having a stroke of inspiration so good that I feel at liberty to tell everyone to “Shut up! I’m writing! I’ll be with you once I finish this!” (This often happens without any warning whatsoever, much to my family’s chagrin.)
I discovered this penchant for the coffee shop in college. Augsburg has a nice mini Starbucks in the corner of the student center. My homework I did in my room, but my writing almost always was taken outside. This is probably where I gained my mild reputation as Nanowrimo girl. By November, Minneapolis usually has at least a little snow, and so I’d make myself comfortable with a coffee and the fireplace (man those fireplaces were warm and awesome) and just blitz out on writing. If I needed a break, there were two art galleries less than twenty feet away, a coffee shop, and a variety of people to talk to.
One day, though, I needed a bit more of a break. There was a hallway I’d actually never really been down, despite having been at Augsburg for two years. On the left were the bathrooms, but I saw a door to the right at the very end of the hall. It said “Meditation Chapel”. What the? I’ve never seen that before.
So I opened the door, and this is what I found:
Holy crap. Wow. Is someone gonna yell at me if I appropriate this place for a few hours a day?
It turned out, that no, no one would yell at me. Heck, I think once in two years I walked in on a group having a meeting in there, and maybe twice someone walked in on me tapping away at my laptop (one of those times, it was just someone looking for their jacket). It was the most peaceful, most awesome, most beautiful writing place I could have imagined, and even looking at the picture makes me want to go back just to sit on the floor and write again.
Unfortunately, night classes often made it difficult to get into that room, and my senior year I wasn’t in the dorms which were attached to the student center (and in winter, this made a huge difference). I also had a car, and thus I was able to find my second favorite place to write, Tea Source.
Tea is a huge thing in my family. Some people drink coffee every morning. My mom drinks tea with all the strength of coffee. Red Rose Orange Pekoe tea was a staple in our household (including those little plaster figurines they used to have in every box) up until an acquaintance of my mom’s started a tea shop in Minneapolis. It’s a great little place, filled with all the vibes of a great coffee shop, plus several interesting people.
Around my writing, I observed the most wonderful grey haired woman sipping tea who looked as if she’d stepped straight out of a black and white movie (complete with a floor length wool coat). There was also the lady who was trying to get people into an awfully sketchy wine selling scheme, and the student who took all her tea leaves home in a little tupperware. And then there was me, my Nanowrimo, and a pot of Jasmine tea with the afternoon sun (and sometimes an orange scone. Yum.).
When I moved to Peoria, I found an odd Mecca of coffee shops. Awesome. There’s the Starbucks, the Panera as standbys, but there was also Kade’s, Panache, Apple’s Bakery, and Leaves’n’beans (Kade’s and Leaves’n’beans were tied for favorite). Weirdly, there was also a Steak n Shake that proved to be utterly awesome for writing. Working second shift, I needed a twenty four hour place for Nano 2009 and there it was, right across the street from the apartment. It helped that the late night workers liked me. And I liked them – after all, they brought me ice cream and chocolate. On November 30th, as I madly sprinted to finish the book, rather than just the 50,000 words, one even brought me extra chocolate chips and fudge sauce. I still laud the kindness of that steak n shake man. Last I was in Peoria, he had moved on. I hope it was to a high paying gig full of happiness and unicorns.
As I’ve said before, I wrote most of Nano 201o in a dunkin donuts across from our Korean apartment. But I want to share one more place with you, because I think that while it isn’t my favorite place of writing, and it was only one night, it is definitely the coolest place.
Where the heck am I? Thailand. This was on my trip to Thailand, and right there I am finally getting the chance to read the outline of the final three books in The Athele Series that Michael had been working on for the last two weeks. Let me reiterate that – I have been working on this series for three years, and I’m reading the culmination of everything. You’ll excuse the completely stupid look on my face.
The entire village we were staying at was on stilts. I remember the small cracks in the wood were awesome because underneath the tide was coming in under us. The boat landing was across from us, complete with a prepared racing boat. The open door behind me goes to our room, two sleeping pads covered by a mosquito net (with more cracks in the floor) About two minutes after this picture, Moniqa, the girl next to me, suddenly gestured for me to take the earphones off – it was 6 o’clock and the village was singing their prayers. The sound floated across the water and echoed against the mountain formations around us to the most amazing effect. While I wasn’t writing there, I was definitely working with writing, and that’s why it’s the coolest place I’ve ever done any writing.
What about you? Where have you written that was amazing in some way? What’s your favorite place to write? Do you like coffee shops or home?
Also, check out my Nanowrimo guest post over here, complete with a steampunked out picture of Michael and I!