I file a lot of things under ‘someday’. Someday I’ll have a wood fired pottery kiln. Someday I’ll have an earth oven. Someday I’ll have my own orchard. Someday I’ll have my own percussion/composition room. And someday I’ll have my own, dedicated writing studio. It’s a beautiful, quiet, sunny, warm place within which I can surround myself with and get lost in inspiration. Someday.
Until then, I have several temporary alternatives. Currently, I’m sitting at the dining room table first to finish this post, then to continue editing work on ‘Falling Tears’. It’s reasonably comfortable; the lighting is good. Some nights I’m in the basement at a homemade pine desk next to the wood stove. These writing locations have their plus sides but they both feel temporary.
However, even when that far off someday comes into being and I have my beautiful, timber frame writing studio with the glazed south wall, ergonomic chair, classical music playing softly, desk (nothing on it but my computer, pens and reference books) snugged up to a window overlooking a small pond, I’ll still feel the need to change venues and get out once in a while. There is just nothing like a good coffee shop to bring out some very productive writing (and/or editing).
My home is in a rural area. The only coffee shop in town is Tim Horton’s. Not the best option for an explosion of creativity. Luckily, I’m equidistant from two more urban areas, each with a coffee shop that fit my style. Today I was at one of my favorites in downtown Bangor -Giacomo’s.
Coffee shops need to have certain things to become a great place to write.
First, good coffee.
Second, reusable mugs. I use paper coffee cups to be sure, but in order for me to consider adding a shop to my list of writing haunts they need to have mugs that make me feel cozy. Maybe it’s silly. I don’t care.
Third comfortable seating. This doesn’t necessarily mean cushy armchairs and couches (non at Giacomo’s), though that’s a plus. It means the seating has to be spaced out enough that I’m not distracted by people brushing into chairs or running into tables. It also means the seats that are available are tolerable for hours at a time.
This brings me to the fourth requirement. The staff has to be nice but more importantly, they and the owners have to have a favorable view of someone like me sitting at the same table all day never once looking up from the screen or stack of papers sprawled in front of me. I realize this can be difficult for an establishment that makes more money the more people move through it. To be fair, I try to avoid taking up table space during rush times. At Giacomo’s I’ve never once received even so much as a stink eye from the staff or owner. They are all very nice and I appreciate it. To be fair, I’m lost in the work most of the time and they may very well be shooting daggers at me or contemplating the best way to get me to leave, but I’ve never noticed and that’s the same thing. This is the sort of place that makes it into a novelist’s acknowledgement pages.
Finally, there has to be access to sunlight. I don’t like a lot of distractions when I’m working on my novel. I’m a people watcher and this may make a coffee shop seem an unlikely place to get a lot of work done. However, a good writing coffee shop will have nooks or tables with lots of sunlight. That seems to make all the difference for me. Even thought sunlight means windows, and windows mean things to look at and passersby to draw the eye, I don’t have trouble staying focused if my work and I are bathed in sunlight.
As I edit I’m usually able to get through about one chapter per night. Today at Giacomo’s I was able to edit four. Venue makes all the difference.