I have this thing about needing to change my environment while I write; I take my PDA and wireless keyboard and go over to the BX Food Court – or sometimes just a notebook and pen – where I grab a soda (diet, or course, out of the machine to avoid saccharine), pick a nice quiet corner, and sketch out whatever chapter I’m working on.
For whatever reason, this works for me. Just getting away from my computer seems to clear away whatever cobwebs are getting in my way, and I’m able to make real progress. Once in a while I grab lunch while I’m out, but paying heed to my weight (which is a rant all by itself… though I’m not really ranting right now), I don’t do that often.
The BX Food Court, even when there aren’t many people there, is usually pretty noisy—which makes finding that nice quiet corner a bit odd, but even with all the noise, I can usually find it. I can lose myself in the din of conversations, kids crying or laughing or even just yammering away with the same questions, over and over and over. It’s a different kind of quiet; it’s a loud, boisterous, in your face kind of quiet.
It’s being alone in a crowd. And it works.
When I first got my PDA and keyboard (at Travis AFB) not too many people had seen the combo and often interrupted to ask questions. Now, at home, if I’m on a writing streak and someone interrupts, I feel a little annoyed. Okay, quite a bit annoyed. But it never seemed to bother me there. It was a curiosity, and those not too shy to ask wanted to know what it was, where I’d gotten the keyboard. It inspired a few birthday and graduation gifts. I’d talk to whomever a bit, and was able to ease right back into what I was doing.
Today I went to the BX Food Court and sat there with my diet Pepsi and a notebook, scribbling notes about the current chapter I’m working on, when I heard a small child, about 5 years old, a few tables over, asking his mother what I was doing. They spent at least five minutes discussing the possibilities, and came up with everything from a letter to my mother to a grocery list.
And then he asked—loudly. “Lady, what are you doing?”
I looked up and smiled, mostly so his mother would know I wasn’t perturbed by the interruption. “I’m writing.”
“Just some notes for a book I’m working on.”
“Does it have dragons in it?”
“No, it’s not that kind of book.”
“What kind is it?”
“It’s a book for grownups. It’s about a boy and a girl…”
He snorted. “That’s boring.”
I was snorted at.
By a five year old.
He made my day.
I’ve tried writing other places – the bowling alley, Taco Bell, McD’s (though I have had some laughs there listening to people) – but the Food Court seems to be the best. Maybe it’s the ebb and flow of people. Maybe it’s the kids, or the fact that on a military base people feel a bit more free to approach someone. Maybe it’s just me.
But whatever works, I’ll keep doing it until I’m done with this book.
And it’s about half done.
That’s gonna be a lot of days at the Food Court.