Friday, March 14, 2014

Where I Went (part 2 - continued from March 6, 2014)

I pushed through the doors of the coffee shop on that cold, rainy/snowy night, nervous yet determined. The espresso machines were on overdrive as they brewed and steamed coffee drinks of all kinds, so coming in from the damp cold into a warm, steamy coffee-shop was like stepping off a plane into the humidity of Miami (I’ve been there, at least) (see previous post ‘Where I’ve Been’ from March 6, 2014).

But Miami, however welcoming on that cold night, had nothing to do with anything right then.

I wasn’t there for the coffee. I wasn’t there to make friends. And I certainly wasn’t there for the sugar packets (that may or may not have fallen in my purse to save for another rainy day – but that’s another story).

I was there to write.

As I ordered a frothy, not-so-skinny, ‘extra pump,’ double-sweetened, Vanilla Latte, I scoped out the sitting area. I spotted a table in a dark, unlit, low ‘traffic’ area, and although the table was tiny, I was happy to call it mine. While the barista made my drink, I went about unpacking my laptop, notebook and pen, feeling very professional and very writerly. Just as I was admiring my tiny writing table with everything ‘just so,’ the barista passed me my drink, and I settled the cup expertly by my mouse. With a determined adjustment of my Barbie-logoed hat, I sat down before my laptop and tried to calm my nerves.

Due to various circumstances in the previous month (stress, worry, health and everything-else-in-between), I had been unable to write. I had let external forces get the better of me and sap me dry of my creativity, concentration and zest. And I had been beating myself up over it.

I had decided that maybe taking an hour – and ONLY an hour – away from home life and domestic distractions to work on my never-ending novel was just what the writing doctor ordered. I was determined to get back on that horse I had so ungracefully fallen off of. I wanted this more than anything (except for a skinnier body, better hair, Rick Springfield on a platter...the basics).

Could I do it? Could I write something and get back on track after being all-but dormant for the last month or so? Could I get lost in my story – in my words – and be productive? Would I let low self-confidence get the better of me?

With a deep breath I reviewed previous paragraphs written a few weeks before. Then I lifted my hands to type, and then.....

I felt too squished. The table was too small. I was in fear of knocking my hot drink onto my laptop. The chair was giving me a cramp. The air was too hot. My feet were too cold. The wall beside me was making me feel claustrophobic – which I’m not normally. I didn’t like my back being towards the bathroom. The guy at the table next to mine was getting on my nerves (for no reason other than the fact that he was just...there). An older guy, a ‘regular’ as I could tell by the way he talked to the barista, kept eyeing everyone who entered the shop, including me, as if he owned the place.

I usually prefer walls and corners and anywhere where I can feel protected and watch everything going on around me, but I suddenly felt too closed in. I had no room to move. At all.

Never mind, Lisa, GET ON WITH IT!

I took a fortifying sip of my too-hot latte then, resolute and determined, hovered my fingers over the keyboard and focused on the screen once more.

Just as I wrote not one, not two, but THREE sentences I was sure made sense, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.

A girl sitting at one end of a long ‘group inviting’ table started to pack-up her laptop. Although the spot wasn’t particularly private, at least there was more room, and it was kind of in a corner against the window. The coffee shop wasn’t too busy so what were the chances of a whole group coffee addicts coming in to take over the table, I wondered? Despite the fact I wasn’t feeling very virtuous and willing to share a table, I had to make a split-second decision – did I stay, or did I go? Was I willing to risk leaving my private but squished spot only to potentially have loud, unwanted table mates, all in the hopes of having a bit more room?

I had to try – I was too squished. So as gracefully and professionally as I could, I gathered my stuff as quickly and demurely as I could and settled into my new spot. I spread my stuff out EVERYWHERE, so as to prevent any ‘neighbours.’ Then, after a deep breath and a little self-talk, I kept my eyes focused on my screen and dove in.

I ignored the two young moms catching up gossip on a couch across from me, a baby held in one mom’s arms. But then I started to worry about someone coming up to the one mom and scolding her for breastfeeding her baby in public, given the current ‘trend’ to do so as so commonly relayed in the news these days. As I wrote, I mentally planned my attack on the potential busy-body, plannin

And I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. Before I knew it, an hour went by and the baby, the hens and the writer-guy were forgotten. I had committed myself to only an hour, but I was on a roll! I called home, announced “Just another half an hour!” then continued clacking away at my keyboard until.....

...the low-battery warning appeared on my screen. I hadn’t brought my cord as I didn’t know what my situation would be like, but it was perfect timing, nonetheless. An hour and a half and 2,250 words later, and I was victorious! I did it! I DID IT!

As my writing friend would later tell me, I had to ‘trick my brain.’ I had to remove myself from my usual writing space and schedule and, although there were other distractions - ones that really had nothing to do with me - it was what I needed to get and stay focused in an anonymous environment. I tricked my brain, alright, and despite my observations/worries about people around me, I got more done than I ever would have in my usual ‘space.’

With my work saved, my latte gone, and my bags packed, I stepped out of the warm steamy shop into the cold slushy/sleety/snowy night, happy as a clam in Miami, and content with what I overcame and accomplished.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Congratulations on over 2000 words in an hour and a half. Great productivity. As to the coffee shop, that's my favourite writing place, although I do my first drafts in long-hand so I only need space for my coffee and a coil notebook. Usually prefer the end of the bar that runs along the window, if there is one. Happy writing.

    1. Thank you, Alice. Yes, the coffee shop has become my favorite place - glad you have yours! Anywhere to write, on any medium, is bliss for me :) Take care and thanks for reading! Lisa

  2. Great post - love the inside view of the people I see working in coffee shops. Maybe they are all writers looking for something to get their motivation back and get back writing. Good to hear it worked.

    1. Thank you, Ryshia! Yes, it's become the best place for me on weekends to get some decent writing done - as long as no one bugs me :) Take care and happy writing! Lisa