I love coffee shops. The smells, the rickety chairs, the tables too close together, the conversations had by total strangers, and the people-watching all roll together and unlock my creativity. And I’m not talking about the neighborhood Starbucks or Peet’s. Not that there’s anything wrong with those places… it’s just that they’re too… sanitized? Too focused on the transient soul?
I prefer a coffee shop that’s more like someone’s well-used living room.
Somewhere I can go to sit, ponder, and not be judged because I’ve been sitting there for too long and why don’t I just move already? I mean, there are other customers. Sheesh!
So, it should come as no surprise that I have always done much of my writing in coffee shops.
I had forgotten this little fact until last summer, when I decided that I needed to give my novel a real push. My goal was to finish my manuscript – or, at least, come close. I needed to get out of the house and all of its distractions. The call of the television and the laundry and the sorting of clutter is just too strong and I don’t need any more excuses when it comes to procrastination, thank you very much. And then I remembered those glorious summer days in my twenties; those days spent in one particular coffee house. This was a place where regular Go competitions were held; where people from all walks converged in conversation and gaming and spoken word slams. I longed to find a place like that here, in my current city. So, I set out to find it. Or something like it. I called it My Summer Tour of Small Coffee Shops that Roast their Own Beans.
I found three.
One is very small and popular, so it’s crucial to get there early or you can forget having a table.
One is big, friendly, and airy, and they (mercifully) do not have free WiFi. One of my writing groups meets there every other week.
One is a cleaner version of the place from my adolescence. I go back there to write fairy regularly. It’s large, friendly, everyone knows everyone else and yet they also leave people alone to get their work done. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll share the poem I wrote there yesterday.