If I have to, I can write anywhere. I can write on paper or on the laptop, in pen or in pencil – I’d write with pavement chalk if it’s all I had. I find my writing is best when I am away from the house, where domestic distractions are few and the phone can’t disturb my thoughts.
I tried the library last week. The ideal place to write a novel, I thought, and I wondered if indeed I would need to jostle for space among other literary types. But it was empty apart from a man reading The Telegraph and a woman in a strange hat skulking in Romantic Fiction. I found a corner and opened my laptop. I stared at the screen for a minute. Then another. And another. So very quiet… Too quiet. I found myself disturbed by every cough and rustle of book pages. I couldn’t help but listen to every book renewal and payment of fines. I left and returned to my favourite haunt.
The cafe is loud. It’s full of children messily slurping milkshakes and whining for cake. It’s full of prams and shopping bags and wet coats slung over the backs of chairs. There is a constant bustle of activity through the kitchen doors, and the till rings noisily with every purchase. I love it there and I write feverishly. The sounds become white noise, perfectly attuned so that no single voice penetrates my thoughts. They know me well now and are happy to accommodate me in a corner near a power socket, interrupting only to bring me the mint tea I make last an hour.
I’d love a study at home, with book-lined walls and a reading chair where I’d do my edits, but I’m sure the silence would unnerve me. I’d need to wander out to the cafe from time to time and let the sound of busy lives wash over me as I write.
Just three chapters left to write. I had better order some more tea.