Today I got to live out a fantasy of mine. A couple of years ago I told my wife that I thought it would be neat to go to Starbucks every morning with a notebook computer and sit there nursing a latte while writing for a couple of hours. As I recall, her reaction was, “Yeah, and after a few weeks of coffee, your stomach would kill you.” She’s right of course, but it I think it would be fun to try it.
Well, this morning my daughter had business in town that was time consuming, but not so much time to make the drive home worthwhile. So I took the iBook along and went to Starbucks after dropping her off. I sat by a not-crackling and not-roaring fire (I contend that gas fireplaces aren’t real fireplaces) with a coffee and a couple of biscottis and David Grey playing in the earbuds and tried to play K’s grief into a dramatic scene.
Fortunately, after I dropped my daughter off, my brain went to work and I had my starting point for the day worked out before I got there. It saved me some time in staring at the screen and pondering.
It was a little tempting when I first arrived to people watch. At a table near me were four guys who were talking politics just loudly enough for me to follow. A couple of women showed up and spilled their drinks all over, but by then I was plugged and rolling and pretended I didn’t notice their embarrassment. And as I was leaving there was some kind of business meeting between what looked like an insurance salesman and a family of four. That’s right, I’m sorry, I did nothing to save them. For better or worse, the earbuds threw up a field of isolation so I was able to transport myself to Red Rocks State Park without much trouble*).
For reasons I won’t go into, my writing session was divided into two 90 minute sessions, separated by an hour of activity outside of Starbucks. For the second half I lost my fireplace seat and fortified myself with hot chocolate instead of coffee for the sake of my stomach.
What amazed me was the results. Each 90 minute session produced 8 pages of material, and I finished off chapter twelve. Why can’t I seem to write that fast at home, even with my headphones on? Actually, I think there are several reasons. I still get interrupted at home. At Starbucks I had zero interruptions. On the other hand, though, I am also in the back half of the book where things start flying, so my Starbucks success may be somewhat mitigated.
As far as what I wrote: My decision to use a stage of grief to fuel the crisis worked quite well, I think. Most of my writing today consisted of material I hadn’t even dreamed of, yet it was there, magically at my fingertips, driven by character. It was great.
What’s odd now is that I am now on the verge of starting a new act in the book. It is one I have been thinking about for a long time. Two new characters are about to appear on the scene, and knowing that I’ll be writing about them within the next couple of days is a rather strange feeling. It’ll be like knowing someone for your entire life… and then finally getting to meet them.
Well, more on that as it happens… which ought to be soon.
397 Pages (+16)
88488 Words (+3309)
NP – David Gray – White Ladder
*The only problem with setting my scene here is the inherent romanticism of having a state park on the continental divide. I kept thinking it needed a more grandiose name, like Edge of the World State Park.