Space to Write
I’ve always thought it would be cool to write in a coffee shop. With a big, spiral notebook and pen, or my trusty laptop. The motivating scent of caffeine would waft around me as I spent hours engrossed in the lives of my characters, ignoring the hustle and bustle of the staff and my fellow customers. It all sounds so idyllic. Like a scene from a movie. Which also means my hair would be shiny, my clothes chic, and the lighting softly filtered.
Enter reality. My husband and I spent a few hours in a coffee shop one morning a couple of years ago. We were waiting for some problem with our car to be fixed. Until it was, we were stuck. It also happened to be a work day and we both had tons to do. And so, a table at a nearby coffee shop ended up becoming our joint office for a while. My husband worked on his laptop on one side of the table. On the other side, my red pen and I went to town on draft pages of The Experiment.
This coffee shop was so esoterically trendy, and weirdly located, it could have made a millennial cry. The staff were friendly, the coffee delicious, and the banana bread fresh. It should have been a writer’s dream come true. Instead, it forced me to a sudden and awkward realisation: I hate taking up space in other people’s places of business.
In the three or so hours we were there, we collectively went through three coffees, two hot chocolates and four morning tea items – because it seemed rude to stay if we weren’t actively consuming something. I obsessively kept one eye on the other tables to make sure there was always at least one free for new customers. On our way out the door, we bought a kilo of coffee beans to thank the staff for having us for so long. They were kind and appreciative. They may also have thought we were a bit crazy. We pretended not to notice.
I’ve scribbled words in some weird and random locations over the years. Hospital cafeterias, in my car, standing in line outside the school hall, and – on the odd occasion – in a coffee shop. But I’ve decided I definitely do my best writing when I’m at home. On my couch, in my bed, at my desk. My hair is usually a mess, my clothes are more comfy than chic, and the lighting is filter-free. But the coffee is still good and my characters are all around me. These places are the perfect writing spaces for me.