Everyone loves the romantic scene – the writer in a local, indie cafe, sipping expensive coffee and staring out the window at the world, awaiting inspiration. It’s probably a bit gloomy and the rain makes everything a little shimmery and sad, but that’s the perfect spot for the writer, who thrives in such a place, who finds inspiration and beauty in the forlorn and the lost.
Now, I speak only for myself when I say, writing in cafes is the worst. When writing is your passion and not your job, maybe it’s still fun and cool to cuddle up in an oversized plush couch and watch the world out a rainy window, but when you’re trying to run a business and meet deadlines and manage several manuscripts at once, writing at a cafe is tantamount to doing surgery on a rollercoaster. If I sound bitter, it’s not because I’m judging anyone who can write in a cafe, it’s because I really wish I could do it myself.
The problem is, I get very distracted. Cafes, especially in my town, are busy, exciting places. Even during the lull of the day, there are still conversations, noises, doors opening, books falling, phones going off. At my home office, I work in complete silence. I don’t listen to music, I don’t have the television on. The door is closed and, for the most part, I’m completely alone.
Because a few years back, writing stopped being my profession and started being my business. And for the same reason I’m not allowed to sit at my desk and ruminate on my writer’s block, I’m not allowed to spend several hours in a cute little cafe, trying to edge my way through three paragraphs that I could have eaten for breakfast at home.
When I’m working, which, as an independent writer is all the time, I’m no longer indulging in the fantasy and romance of the art. I have to take a step back and see it as a business. I have very real deadlines and very real obligations that need to be met, and that’s a great thing!
From where I sit, making this passion into a career is a dream in progress. But it means I do need to sacrifice some of the things I used to do when writer wasn’t what paid the bills. I used to sit in cafes and write down the conversations around me, sometimes turning them into poetry and stories. I used to sacrifice my day of writing at the altar of the writer’s block gods, to return when I felt more inspired. But I took a leap to make writing a career, not a hobby, and some things had to change.
Writing is still fundamentally romantic. For instance, it is raining outside right now and I am sipping a large cup of tea in my oversized sweater. I get to research a vast and interesting world and I get to create my own, to build humans from the ground up, to invent and explore and imagine. The fundamentals of writing haven’t changed, but the perspective I have about it has.
And I’m lucky for it. I’m lucky to call my desk and my computer the office. I’m lucky to have deadlines and editors who need my work returned to them. I’m lucky that I have the chance to forgo some of that romance for something tangible and real, a career made out of a passion. So no, I don’t work in cafes anymore. To me, it’s a whole lot better. ♦