Thursday, 10 May 2012

Where do you do it?


What does a coffee shop, bed, a living room, a library and a garden have in common? No, it’s not a joke, it’s actually a list of possible answers to a question we often ask our guest bloggers. Where do you write?

Recently, you got a glimpse into our own writing spaces, compiled by Fi, and we had a range of interesting responses.

It’s one that has me puzzled because in my opinion, there’s only one answer. I mean, to put it simply, I can’t write anywhere other than my own house. If I try to write in public, I get the feeling I’m being watched and it’s incredibly distracting. Take the library for example – I’m sitting at the table with my laptop and Mrs Jones comes in and says hello to the librarian behind the desk, Mrs Pettigrew.
‘How’s young Johnny?’ she asks her.
‘Not too good. I just can’t believe what happened.’
‘Well, give him my best wishes. Hopefully he’ll pull through soon.’
A solemn faced Mrs Pettigrew takes the books off her and thanks her.
Then I wonder what has happened to young Johnny. Has he been in a car accident or did he fall down a well on a farm? I wonder if he has banged his head in the playground or if he has measles. Or a life-threatening illness. I hope not.

This diverts my attention away from what I’m supposed to be doing – working on my WIP. Then I notice the guy at the desk beside me has logged onto crazypeople dot com or something like that, devoted to Doomsday followers. He leaves a message saying the end of the world is tonight, and I wonder if he’s right. His ear lobe is cluttered with rings, about ten or twelve, and he has a skull tattoo, a really angry looking one. The face is coloured in. It’s red and orange. He clenches his fist as he types with one finger, then he logs off and leaves the library. Next to the chair is Ronnie who is applying for a job as a taxidermist, but after keying in all his information online, the form fails to go through. He gets up, kicks the desk, then composes himself. He then starts to browse through the other job vacancies and stops at ‘beauty therapist required for top salon.’

Or picture this – I’m in Starbucks with my laptop and Betty and Bertha sit down beside me. They’re a larger than life duo and they eagerly tuck into their Verry Berry scones and apple and cinnamon pies, to be washed down with double Caramel Macchiatos. They really shouldn’t be here. I wish they’d bought healthy salads instead.

Betty starts talking about her forthcoming weight loss surgery and I wonder why the pair are not at the village hall attending Weightwatchers. They talk about Stanley and Herbert, who I assume are their significant others. Stanley has just been made redundant, having worked at Wally’s Engineering Works for the past forty years. He’s at a loose end, says Betty. Betty and Bertha make for a comedic pair and I can visualise them having cameo roles in my next book.

Of course, all these vignettes give me ideas and ideas are good when you’re writing a work of fiction. But as a caveat, it’s distracting when you have your whole book planned out and you don’t need any more scenes or walk on characters. More importantly, I don’t like to be the subject of someone else’s curiosity.

‘I wonder what she’s doing,’ whispers Betty.
‘I’m writing a book,’ I say, logging off and slamming the laptop lid shut.
‘Oh, that’s great, dear. I tried to write a book once about my arthritis.’
I roll my eyes and leave for home.

Where do you write? I’m interested to know if you find it distracting? Do you feel you are being watched? Or can you work as you would at home? Just curious. I hate tea and coffee anyway.

9 comments:

Karen said...

I mostly write in well-known cafes like Costa or Caffe Nero, where it's busy enough for people not to notice me, and the buzz of conversation just whirls around me and isn't distracting.

At home I end up doing housework or surfing the net, or family wander in and out wanting things, or the phone keeps ringing, so it's definitely more productive for me to be somewhere neutral!

Sandra Davies said...

There was a paragraph in today's Telegraph about how people with one coffee and a laptop are clogging up tables and causing rows in coffee shops ... but having long worked from home I can ignore housework and have few interruptions - apart from my husband starting up motorbikes, which is his long-term obsession.

Lindsay said...

The main answer is - I write at home, but I did write a little part of my novel in a hotel in Timbuktu.

Gillian McDade said...

Timbuktu would definitely provide inspiration!

Derek said...

Being trapped for hours on trains always used to concentrate the mind wonderfully! Nowadays it's in the attic at home, although I still sometimes shout out 'Didcot Parkway' to recapture the romance of it all.

Debs Riccio said...

I do most of it in my head and then when I come to sit down and translate it onto screen, it's disappeared. Bah.

suzy doodling said...

In the Summer, I love writing in the garden. Other times, I write in the shop where I work during coffee breaks. Useful, as characters come in and tell me stories that I can write down.

Gillian McDade said...

I'd love to be able to write in the garden but I can't see the laptop screen!

Hazel_Myope said...

I used to only be able to write sitting in my bed but then I started writing earlier in the day so that I could read on the train. Now I write on the platform, write on trains, write on park benches, anywhere I can sit with a note book.