So I'm writing a novel. My "next" novel, while my agent shops my last novel -- the one featuring two boys who form a hardcore band in Pennsylvania. This novel is less hardcore but the plot does involve a band, or a concert, and a couple boys and a couple crazy families, and I'm in love with it right now, all the scenes spreading out in front of me desperate to be written. There's only one problem. Well there's only one problem that I'm writing about in this blog post... where to do all this writing without distraction. The easy answer is home, because I live alone and even when my boyfriend is around (which is at least half the time) he does give me some space to write on the balcony and get into a semi-groove with the story and the characters and the love, and I love that he does that but still, it's hard to pull away from him for the multiple hours it takes to write a first draft and a second draft (which I'm currently on) while keeping the flow going in a summer when I'm busier than I've ever been with work (which I feel like I say every time I post) and there's an endless stream of activities and parties I've committed to and it's just hard to find the time so when I finally find the time to write, I want it to be perfect and so far this summer, in the city, it's been... difficult. Like... WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING IN A COFFEE SHOP WHEN EVERY SINGLE PERSON AROUND YOU IS ON THEIR LAPTOP WORKING ON SOMETHING IMPORTANT AND COULD GIVE TWO FLYING FUCKS ABOUT THE CONVERSATION YOU'RE HAVING WITH THE GIRL 2 FEET FROM YOU. She can hear. Stop shouting!!!!!!
So I work from home when I'm not traveling and by some miracle I haven't traveled at all in July so I was home a lot and I've been working my ass off, like 10 hours days every day minimum just sitting in front of that goddamn computer doing engineering shit and data work and conference calls and I just can't -- like who can -- so I need a release, I need to get out of my place, and my very favorite coffee shop in Hoboken closed in the spring and the re-opened version is a pale imitation and it's averaged 112 degrees with 100% humidity for the past few weeks so sitting outside in Sinatra Park, while not horrible, is a bit of a sweat-and-bug-filled challenge so I inevitably head for the city to write and sadly, I encounter... people. Like this guy.
Two tables away but SCREAMING in the middle of this awesome coffee shop on the Lower East Side which serves coffee and alcohol and believe me, after a day of nonstop work I need a little "coffee" to keep me going and get my writing juices flowing to make the best art I can possibly make and this guy is not freaking helping.
Anyway, my favorite place to go this summer is The West in Williamsburg, which not only has an awesome Nitro Cold Brew (that's coffee) but also a bunch of taps and a great outdoor space with enough shade to shield you from the worst of this sun and not too much music to drown out the sound of your own thoughts while you write. The only problem is -- well, the people. Because it's outside, most of the patio is a smoking zone and the customers don't give a crap that the smoke blows into the faces of those like me typing away in the non-smoking section, even as we cough and give the dirtiest looks possible, they don't give a shit and blow their smoke in your direction. Not everyone, of course, most are very respectful, but it only takes one and all of a sudden I'm worried about a sore throat rather than my novel. And why the hell are people smoking anyway? It's 2016. You were all born after 1990. You've known since birth that smoking equals cancer. WHY ARE YOU SMOKING AT A WILLIAMSBURG COFFEE SHOP INSTEAD OF ALONE IN YOUR HOUSE WHERE ONLY YOUR BREATH CATCHES THE CANCER. UGH... sometimes people are... vexing. So I could go inside where it's all non-smoking but inside there's two problems common to every single coffee shop in Manhattan or Hoboken or Brooklyn -- (1) they keep the temperature at a steady 55 degrees, and (2) they blast the music at the same volume as Webster Hall on a Saturday, which is to say so loud that I have to slap headphones on and blast my own music so loud I can't even focus on the writing. And then you have the few customers there not on their laptops, just there to socialize, and they have to shout to be heard, and then you run into the problem with Tooly-McNeedsAShave over there screaming at the girl two feet away. It's not good. For anybody. Maybe I should go to a library.
I've tried a million different coffee shops but all of them, even the ones that don't serve alcohol (which, come on Starbucks, get it together), they all blast the music and they all are super cold and they all have too loud customers who look around them at all the people diligently working and decide this is the perfect time to cackle maniacally at something someone said that can't possibly be funny or to speak at the highest volume imaginable with a thick Russian accent to someone on the phone on the patio of a coffee shop. Like seriously. SHUT THE FUCK UP NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOU!!!! ugh. Yeah, I guess I should just go to a library. I don't know. I mean, yes there are quieter places I'm sure (not just libraries, but I don't know, convents? I could sneak into NYU with my spring pass from a year ago I guess, or I could just go home to my office and write in the same place I worked all day but what's the fucking fun of that?) I mean, the point is, there are bars in the city. There are 15 bars within 100 yards of where I'm sitting right now and people are gathered at these establishments, talking loudly to each other over excessively loud music but no one minds, no one cares, because that's what they're there for -- no one is trying to write the Great American Novel at a bar on the Lower East Side. But you're not at a bar. You're at a coffee shop. Put down the cigarette and turn down the fucking music and STOP SCREAMING AT YOUR FRIEND TWO FEET AWAY, BECAUSE IT'S LOUD IN HERE I KNOW -- BELIEVE ME I KNOW -- BUT YOU'RE THE ONLY PERSON IN THE WHOLE PLACE EVEN SPEAKING and every time there's a lull in the song I'm listening to on my headphones at full blast, all I hear is your fucking fat voice, checkered-shirt douche, and your voice should not be in my novel. Please leave.
This blog belongs to Bill Elenbark.
Lover of songs. Writer of wrongs.