I'm insanely jealous of writers who can work on planes and buses, in coffee shops, and so on. I see you people at the neighborhood Caribou Coffee (or Timothy's, in Toronto) and on buses and in airplanes (or, in Laura's case, poolside in Vegas), happily tapping away on your keyboards, oblivious to all the people flapping around clucking at each other, unfazed by the insipid muzak or the squeal of the milk-frother.
I can't do it. I can write in dingy bars, but once in a dingy bar, I start drinking, and my writing goes to hell. I enjoy working in coffee shops with notebook and pen, but for me, longhand is mostly about brainstorming.
When it comes down to writing the actual prose of the book, I have to retreat to my own cave.
And I have a new cave
I recently rented a place above a vacant storefront.
It's walking distance (a mere 6 minutes) from my house.
My office isn't quite set up. Boxes everywhere, some walls still bare, I haven't unpacked my Ernie Banks and Incredible Hulk bobbleheads, and I'm still looking for my Page Points. But my desk area is up and running.
The reason I've not finished unpacking is ... I'm busy writing. The phone doesn't ring 367 times a day, and there's no tug-of-war in my head between family time and work time. When I'm at the office, I'm at work. When I'm home, I'm not at work.
Easy to understand, even for a simple man like me. No confusion. As a result, my productivity (read: word-count) is way, way up.
I also dig the atmosphere.
The stairway features cracked linoleum, peeling paint, and naked lightbulbs. Sets the mood perfectly as I arrive to work.
Across the street, a convenience store and a Chinese take-out joint (bedsheets seem to be very popular window-dressing on this street).
When Agent 99 and I first moved to the neighborhood, we ordered dinner from this place (undoubtedly sold by their claim of "Famous" Chinese Food).
We both got sick.
So I won't be picking up lunch at the joint, but as atmospheric set-dressing, something to gaze upon when I look out my office window, it's perfect.
Oh, and did I mention that my office has a small kitchen?
It does. And that's important, since I'm now renting an office, and do not have money to spend on take-out, famous or otherwise.
The oven and two of the stove-top burners don't work, but two burners is plenty for a guy alone in an office, right?
Besides, my dad gave me an office-warming gift that renders such last-century cooking appliances obsolete.
I am now the very proud owner of the greatest kitchen appliance since the spatula.
Yes, it is a George Foreman Grill. And I love it.
Now, if you've read this far, bless you. This post was sparked by the awesome Writer's Rooms series that the Guardian has been running for some time. Check it out, it's addictive.
And if you'd like to win prizes (yea! prizes!) then take a pic of your own writing space and send it to me (email link on my website). Include a word or two about what makes the space work for you.
I'll collect photos for a couple weeks, then post an assortment here.