I love to write in the mornings. With breakfast finished and my son off to school, I look forward to playing with words, a turn of phrase, an unfolding story. Distraction, though, can thwart my best intentions.
When I am about to sit down and write, I’ll do the dishes, the laundry or any other household task begging for my attention. Once I do sit down, the wobble of my chair or the pitter-patter echo of the toddler downstairs seeps deep into my consciousness. Distraction can be insidious. When settling in proves a dismal failure, I know to pack my bag and venture out to find inspiration at a local café.
“Distraction can be insidious. When settling in proves a dismal failure, I know to pack my bag and venture out to find inspiration at a local café.”
In my neighborhood, there are many cafés that fit the bill. There are independently run cafés for the “shop local” crowd, and fair-trade cafés for the environmentally conscious. Parisian-style cafés have their lure, and fast-food dark roasts vie with hip whipped lattes to quench any caffeine craving. One greasy spoon will let you while away a few hours with free refills if you order something to eat. There’s the cash-only café, another that refuses to offer Wi-Fi and a tiny patisserie that charges you 20% extra to sit in.
I have days when I pass up more than one before walking in. I can even get inside and decide: no, not here, not today. Sometimes it’s the coffee: too bitter, too weak. Sometimes it’s the atmosphere, too trendy, too quiet, too empty, too full. But eventually, the pressure of time to get something, anything, written will suck me into the nearest door.
To write in, I like a cafe with wooden floors, high ceilings and tables with ample space. Once committed, I make the place my own. I give myself over to a familiar wafting aroma. I order an Americano, no milk, no sugar please. I arrange my piping hot coffee and writing accoutrements on my “desk,” and then I take in the sounds around me. An espresso maker sputters and whirs to an undercurrent of percussion-driven electronic beats and the indiscernible vocalizations of a female singer. Voices murmur, mostly in French, some in English and a spattering of other languages, about travel plans, relationships in crisis, business.
Distractions, yes, but I am not compelled to do anything about them. They become a backdrop, an entryway into an ongoing narrative. I listen to the tap-tapping sounds around me of others engaged in their own interior monologues and I, finally, begin mine.