Hunting for Muses

Yesterday, I took a brief trip to Fredericksburg, VA and explored a few used book stores there.

One store was the The Griffin a coffee bar/book store. As with many small bookstores in small towns, it’s only open a few hours in the day. In future, if I want to absorb the atmosphere I need to head down right after my normal Panera work session. This is the bulletin board/door to the restroom. Yes, that is an “I Believe in Sherlock” poster. I found them decorating the town. In this store, I picked up a copy of The Classic Illustrated Sherlock Holmes, which contained the original Strand drawings, and Mechanique: A Tale of Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine. I found both in the small room where the fiction, classics, mystery, poetry and sf/fantasy works were sitting in black, lacquered shelves. It reminded me of visiting a personal library, but having a chance to shop and take parts home with me.

This store is a labor of love. I hope it remains. I’d like to visit it again soon, when the weather is warmer, and I can take advantage of the vine-covered outdoor patio tucked away behind the main street facade. Afterwards, as the store closed, I visited the Hyperion Espresso shop. With two slices of pumpkin bread, and a massive mug of red-eye espresso, I made notes and wrote sections about Metaphysical Graffiti. The story is set in Fredericksburg, a mix of a university town, a small historical town, exurb of the DC area, and what is lovingly called Frednecks’burg.

I asked a few of the folks who lived there for suggestions on places mid-level IT managers in the local university would live. Alas, I did so over the internet, so immediately had people asking “Are you selling your house? Did you get a new job?” It took me a bit to explain no, I was just researching, and I did not quit my job. I was just hunting muses.


Ritual Space

Confession time: I write in public. Specifically, at a Panera off of Old Bridge road in Woodbridge, VA. I have a particular seat of which I’m fond. It’s in the back, away from most of the rushing about. If I arrive after 8 AM, it will be occupied and I have to find another spot. But every Saturday morning I go to the Panera and write from about 8:30 AM until 11:30 AM, when they start enforcing the 20 minute WiFi rule, and I no longer have access to streaming music.

I developed the habit years ago. For most of my life, I’ve never lived or been alone. Noise and people dominated my environment. Writing elsewhere – in bookstores, restaurants, anywhere I could get table space – became my norm. It also allowed me to feel social without actually being social. Even now, I have my own house, with a nicely appointed office, and I find it difficult writing there. The office is for sorting bills, or teleworking when I can, or just as a sanctuary away from the cats for a bit. it is where I go to type out the occasional thought on Deda Dragan’s old Royal typewriter.

But as I ponder it, my ritual gives me something more than a nice setting. It gives me structure, and a deadline. The structure is easy – I have a regular ritual, a regular place to go, and as much iced tea as I can drink without exploding. The deadline is more subtle. Music is an important part of my creative process. As a recovering film major (more on that later), I’m constantly making a soundtrack in my mind. Pandora, and other services like it, help create and expand the soundtrack. Without it, I have generic Panera music. So when the WiFi closes like an airlock seal, I lose my soundtrack, and gain a motivator. I’ve got to get as much crammed into those three hours at the cafe as I can. There’s a gun at my head, and it’s loaded with adult contemporary music.

As a status update: Added three pages to the Adia & Tellus story. Not much by way of professional writers, I admit. I also penned a few more items into the evolving outline for this book. And I’m now making sure the last 20 minutes are spent documenting my work in this blog.

Now, off to the rest of the day and various errands.

Clatter and Hum

Smith Corona

So, what is this whole venture about? You have a perfectly good LiveJournal blog ( and if anyone wishes to see your photos, they can visit your Flickr site ( Why go through all of this?

Two reasons, really. The first is corporate and mundane. In the future, I will be working with a new platform based on the WordPress architecture. While this may be a nerfed version of the full platform, it does allow me to at least see the back end and experiment with the interface.

The second is to create a separate, promotable space for my creative endeavors. My LiveJournal is filled with occasional thoughts and other oddities, but it is a personal journal. This will allow me to develop a professional space for my writing and photography. If I really wish to advance in these pursuits, I need to treat them as more than the occasional hobby.

You can’t expect people to treat your stories and images seriously if you do not.