Each writing spot I frequent away from my desk has its own vibe. When it matches with my mood for the day, it's pure page-cranking bliss. When it doesn't, it feels like a note of discord I can't quite put my finger on. It's crazy, really, to hang productivity on a place's atmosphere or lack thereof, but it does play beautifully into the whole writer's superstition thing.
One place is a wanna-be of the Starbucks down the road. It's proximity to the burbs brings in a steady traffic of geriatric men discussing politics and housefraus discussing skin care lines. The kind of place where the menopausal baristas would donate a kidney to you. Last week, I had to endure a big band version of Van Halen's Jump piped through the sound system. Not my most productive day. Geographically appealing, but gets demarcation for vanilla people-watching and no prime writing real-estate near the back. Productivity grade: C
Spot number two is the largest Starbucks I've ever been in. A four-foot two barista with blond hair spiked like a porcupine pipes up the moment you enter. Like a door chime, but infinitely more annoying. I don't go there often enough for her to know what I want, but I could always use whatever happy pill she downed before work. This is my favorite spot when it rains. Hand painted, blown-glass shades hover over each table, especially a delicious little nook all by itself, and the life beyond the glass is filled with people interrupting the puddles that collect on the imperfect sidewalk. Productivity grade: A
Coffee shop three is an off-chain populated by the high-school version of the rugby team. Bizarre patterns of facial hair can't hide the fact that their little click is circling the drain of contributions to society. Oh, they hide behind beatnik Friday-night amateur music night and local artisan's paintings climbing the walls, but it falls to pretentious and self-indulgent. Geographically, if I'm aerobically ambitious, I could walk to it, but the spilled coffee bean sacks as ambiance interferes with my left-brain's sense of order. Productivity grade: C-
Lastly, I attempt the library on occasion. Extreme enough distance that I can't bargain with myself to drive home and nap when the pages aren't coming. With gas $3.18 a gallon here, I'm totally committed to the endurance page-count marathon. And, although I don't have to endure show tunes or complaint pop music, the ancient air conditioner and the body functions of someone in the stacks twelve rows down ricochets against my creativity. The fiction section also functions as a magnetic force field of temptation, almost justifiable as "market research." Productivity grade : C
Am I too picky? Quite possibly. But these places do serve as a good reminder of my well-worn chair, holey slippers, and beverage perfection waiting for me at home.
What about you? What's your favorite spot and why?