They’re there in Julia Cameron’s books. They’re there in tales of writing lives & communities. There’s one in Edinburgh whose fame is based on what was written there and by whom. You may already spend hours busy in one, but I hadn't.
Writing in a cafe wasn’t something I’d ever actually done, not as a pen and paper activity in itself. Partly this was because I live close enough to town to be home in five minutes. “Why pay for coffee when it’s free at home?” The puritanical soul. The writer’s income.
Partly because, blessed with a large workroom, going to a cafe felt slightly too precious and pose-y. “I need even more space for my great gifts to spread themselves, darlings. Bye!” Swish of silk scarves. Wave of finely gloved hand. I don't think so.
Partly because, with someone else home here - a rather nice someone else as it happens - I sort of felt I shouldn’t.
But mostly because those old echoes of well-worn guilt, as in “You are getting on with your homework in that room, aren’t you, Penny?” made me feel uncomfortable about leaving my desk and computer and seeking out what felt such a selfishly indulgent writing place.
Then, earlier this week, I actually did it. I called into a small local café with no other intention than to sit and write for a while, at a time when the place wasn’t too busy. It was a small café. The mug was a generous size. Nobody stared at me much. The music and chatter wasn’t a bother. It felt sociable rather than solitary.
And I could work. I didn’t write much actual story, but I did feel free to really think and puzzle about my characters in a way I hadn’t at home. I could not hear the swarm of small attention-seeking Things To Do that buzz loudly around the house. It felt very good, and very productive, even without any laptop. I even overheard something that gave me a small Idea. I think I am a café convert.
So, where do you escape to write?