Thursday, 8 February 2018

Look at moi! I'm writing in a cafe!

I started writing this week's blog in a cafe.

I know! 
It's too ridiculous!

I always laugh at the idea of writers working in cafes. 
I mean, how PRETENTIOUS!

Look at moi!
I'm a writer! 
I'm writing! 
I'm very clever and creative and literary.

I imagine myself waving a fountain pen in the air, as I half-sing, half-laugh these very words, placing special emphasis on 'literary'. I pronounce it with four distinct syllables - LIT-ER-AIR-EE - just to poke a little bit of fun at myself while also making sure that nobody misses the fact that I have a fabulous vocabulary and I'm not afraid to use it.

I also imagine myself wearing a voluminous sack-shaped linen dress, elastic-sided riding boots (no socks), tiny round glasses and no make-up except for a dash of bright pink lipstick. Because I am far too busy and creative and LIT-ER-AIR-EE to be concerned about organising my wardrobe or applying a full face of make-up. 
Look at moi!

Look at moi!

Look at moi!

But, it's not just being pretentious that puts me off the idea of cafe writing. 
No, no, no, no!
It's all those DISTRACTIONS.
There is so much happening in a cafe. 
So much to see and do and hear and touch and smell.
People to watch.
Conversations to hear. (It's not eves-dropping if you're a writer, surely?)
Wobbly tables to shore up with cleverly placed sachets of Stevia.
Coffee to sip.
Cakes to sniff and lick and nibble.
Paper serviettes that are just begging to be transformed into paper cranes.

No, writing in a cafe just doesn't make sense.

And yet, there I was, late on Wednesday morning, writing in  a cafe. 
An Austrian cafe, at that. 
But not quite so pretentious when you realise that the Austrian cafe was in Castlemaine, not Vienna.

But I was there for good reason.
It was hot.
Stinking hot.
And the air conditioning in my new house was not yet up and running.
And cafes have air-conditioning.
And coffee and cake.
And this particular cafe, had coffee and apple-custard tart - or as they so charmingly put it, kaffee und apfel-pudding-torte - and it was served by the most gorgeous hipster waiters wearing long aprons and warm smiles.

So there I was, sipping coffee, eating tart and writing this week's blog.
And, to be honest, I was going great guns until I'd chugged down all the coffee, gobbled all the tart and licked every last skerrick of whipped cream off the plate - about five minutes after it landed at my table! (I might be LIT-ER-AIR-EE but I'm a jolly fast eater!)

Now what?

You can't just sit in a cafe all day, using up lucrative customer space, just because you need somewhere cool and comfortable to write.
That would be rude and self-centred and, well, PRETENTIOUS!

Look at moi!
I'm a writer! 
I'm writing! 
I'm so very clever and creative and literary that the cafe owner is happy to sacrifice this table with its wonderful lunchtime earning potential in order to bask in the glory of my non-paying presence.

Of course, I could have ordered another cup of coffee, but that seemed too stingy. 
I'd have to add a couple of sausages to the order. 
Maybe even some cabbage and fried potatoes. 
But I was full.
Really full.
You should have seen how big that slice of apple-custard tart was!

Besides, the würste mit sauerkraut would arrive, I'd gobble it up and I'd be right back where I started.
Except that, now, there'd be sausage grease and strings of fermented cabbage across the pages of my notebook.
And I'd be feeling ill from overeating.

Hmmm. Tricky.

So I packed up my notebook and pen, paid the bill and left.
I'd written two pages.
Two small pages. (My notebook was tiny.)
The word to cake ratio was too low.
Totally unsustainable.

A cafe writer I am not.

But where to go?
What to do?
There was work to be done and a hot house to avoid.

I rejected the park. By this stage, even the shady spots beneath the trees were growing sauna-ish.

I considered writing in the ice-cream freezer at the IGA. It wouldn't be as pretentious as writing in a cafe, but I had an inkling that it would draw unwanted attention and be considered socially unacceptable. Nobody wants to open their Blue Ribbon to find two buttocks imprinted in the top of the ice cream. Not even if they're LIT-ER-AIR-EE buttocks.

Yes, this really is my bottom.
I blame it on all that apfel-pudding-torte.
I considered driving around in the air-conditioned comfort of my car, recording my spoken words on my phone.  But I'm a pen-and-paper, keyboard-and-screen type of gal. I need to feel the words flowing from brain to fingers to page. I need to see the sentences taking shape.

In the end, I did what any sensible person would have done in the first place.
I took myself to the library.
And there I found my space.
A quiet corner with a huge table, a comfy chair and deliciously chilled air.
A place where people are expected to be reading and writing.
A place where one can scribble words to one's heart's content without feeling even a tad pretentious.
And that is where I wrote the rest of this blog.
Castlemaine Library is not quite this big,
but it is just as lovely.
Furthermore, once I was done, I read four home decorating magazines, and toddled home with five DVDs and a lovely book on Switzerland tucked beneath my arm.

All in all, a public writing experiment with a jolly outcome. 
Except that my blog is about nothing more than writing this blog...

With apologies to my writer friends who work in cafes rather than at home because:
a) they need to escape their noisy children
b) they need to escape their smelly dog
c) they've run out of coffee at home
d) they have enormous appetites and giant royalty cheques so can afford to sit at a cafe table all day, ordering an endless supply of coffee, cake and toasties while they write
e) they like it

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