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The Trouble With Writing in Coffee Shops

I love to write in coffee shops. It frees me of the usual distractions from things I could be doing instead, television shows that split my attention and bouncing among a thousand browsers.

So I grabbed a big cappuccino:

cup

And a tiny little cinnamon roll:

roll

Sometimes I write rough drafts longhand  to further minimize distractions, especially if I think I may be bouncing from scene to scene, so I closed up to my iPad and got to work.

Things were going along well for a while. I don’t really notice the ambient noise: the clanking of dishes, the hiss of the espresso machine, the low buzz of conversation once I’m in the zone. I had chosen a small table by the window. It was sunny, but lightly snowing at the same time, not terribly uncommon in Buffalo.

At some point I noticed that I was hypnotized by the shadow of my pen as it scratched across the page. Actually, I use mostly Sharpie pens, which don’t really scratch, but “danced” seemed presumptuous and I’ve apparently used up my supply of decent verbs for the day.

I got a little lost in the shadow of the distinctive shape of my Sharpie for a while, but I pressed on.

Sometimes I hear bits of conversations, like the time I sat next to a young couple who were clearly on a first date, asking each other a series of awkward “get to know you” questions. They seemed to be doing okay, though, their awkwardness a commonality rather than an obstacle.

Today I saw a woman pull up alone and leave with a small child. Kidnapping? The neutral ground shared custody exchange of a bad divorce? Babysitting?

A coffee shop can be a source of either distraction or material depending on how you look at it.

The other issue is that sometimes when I am concentrating I clutch at my hair. I don’t normally realize I’m doing it at the time, but I had to walk the length of the coffee shop to leave and I really hope I didn’t look too much  like a mad scientist.

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