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.

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