A Place to Write

Here’s some advice I received years ago that I’ll pass along to you: Never let yourself get tied to one specific place where you write. It’s much better to be able to write anywhere.

Here’s the truth about how carefully I followed have that particular advice: My absolute favorite place to write is the Bagel Shop on Fifth Street here in Richmond (See Picture Gallery Below). My goal is always to arrive by 9:00, say hello to the counter crew, get situated at my table (laptop open, notes/books spread out), plop $1.87 and my coffee punch card on the counter (I get a free cup for every ten I pay for), fill my Fifth Street Bagel Shop coffee mug, and work happily for three or four hours. The Other Connie sits at the table to my right, Herb and Tina sit behind me, and a local preacher often occupies the table to my left.

I started coming to the Bagel Shop years ago when I developed a phone problem: If the phone rang while I was working at home, I got annoyed because people were bothering me. If the phone didn’t ring I got depressed because I thought no one cared about me. At the Bagel Shop I had no way of knowing if the phone at home was ringing or not.

These days I bring my cell to the Bagel Shop so I can’t say it’s my phone problem that keeps me coming day after day, year after year. What keeps me coming is the quiet company, the feeling that I’m not alone; what keeps me coming is the sense that I’m “going to work”…going to a place set apart for writing; what keeps me coming is enough background noise to push against as I move into my writing zone, but not so much noise that I’m distracted; what keeps me coming is the fact that I’ve learned things there, like how to forgive the interlopers who commit the grievous sin of sitting at my table.

I can’t always make it to the Bagel Shop. When I was at work on the final editing for The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton I was chained to my desk at home so that I could have ready access to two shelves of books, another shelf of three-ring binders, and four accordion files. And I can, in fact, work in places other than the Bagel Shop. But it’s where I do my best writing.

So, never let yourself get tied to one specific place where you write. But if you do, you’ll be a happier writer for it!