I’m writing this piece in a coffee shop. I know, I know, you think of a coffee shop as a place where people slurp down their lattes as fast as burn prevention allows before leaping from their seats to make room for the next customer; a place where, if you dawdle for more than 10 minutes, you’ll be force-fed the last morsel of your cranberry-orange scone and shoved onto the sidewalk by a bouncer who’s hoping you give him an excuse to choke you out.
But I’m not afraid. I choose to linger. I know how important a writing environment is, and what could be more stimulating than being surrounded by people sipping? You should have seen the barista’s face when I took out my laptop. I overheard her telling a coworker, “That guy’s, like, typing on a little television!” I really didn’t intend to shake things up, but sometimes you have to claim your space at any cost. The coffee shop (it still sounds weird saying that!) works for me, but where do you belong?
A place that area book lovers visit to check out VHS cassettes of Three Men and a Little Lady, comb Craigslist for apartments and pick up tax forms.
PROS: Generally quiet and adequately climate controlled.
CONS: The man across from you looks like Rasputin in a ski vest and apparently has a longstanding grudge against an aardvark named Franco. You are that aardvark named Franco.
A place where you, your family, your pets and any exchange students live.
PROS: Complete control of your environment; freedom to write wearing nothing but a lobster bib and ankle socks.
CONS: None, really. What could be distracting about working in a space containing the food, books, video games, cable stations and pornography that you very specifically picked out for yourself?
A place where people go to make new friends, watch sporting events or scrape together a few precious hours of fermented oblivion.
PROS: Colorful alcoholics can make for good characters.
CONS: Bachelorette parties, bathrooms with toilets last flushed by someone wearing a Whitesnake T-shirt.
A CABIN IN THE FOREST
A small woodland shelter where a writer can be alone with his thoughts and his lack of plumbing.
PROS: Ah, solitude! You could really hear a pin drop out here.
CONS: Those thunderous eruptions that won’t give you a moment’s peace? Your hair growing.
A form of mass transportation that whisks people from one delay in service to the next.
PROS: Unless you’re preoccupied with ogling a fellow passenger or studying an advertisement for ESL classes, you can usually get a few sentences down during a commute.
CONS: Remember that guy from the library … ?
A SPACE STATION
An orbital research vessel.
PROS: In space, no one can hear you totally rip off Harry Potter.
CONS: The HAL 9000 spellchecker suggests you accept all his changes.