Negotiating With Self

coffeehouse1Today’s signs of spring: Dog panting on our walk and me only wearing a hoodie over a long-sleeved cotton shirt.

I’m sitting in a local coffeehouse, feeling low-grade anxiety. This low-grade anxiety tells me I ought to be working on today’s day-job task. This low-grade anxiety tells me that straight-A students don’t delay the paying work for a few hours. This low-grade anxiety tells me that someone (but who?) will get mad at me if I don’t turn around today’s day-job task one minute from now.

But here’s the first thing: The immediacy of day-job tasks will always trump fiction if I let them.

Here’s the second thing: Which means that if I’m not careful I’ll accomplish less fiction than usual.

Plus this: Unfortunately, my creativity turns off at night because by then I’m brain-tired.

How could I not peek?
How could I not peek?

However: Since I always make my deadlines and the day-job task isn’t creative, I’ll get it done this evening for sure.

So: Here I sit in a coffeehouse about to complete a few hours worth of fiction. Take that, low-grade anxiety. Pipe down, you.

How’s that for negotiating with myself?

Ode to a Neighborhood Cafe

kodigoodbyesign.jpgAn era has ended, and I hadn’t realized I was in a mini-funk until today.

I previously mentioned Kodi’s in this post. Alas, Kodi’s is yet another independent coffee house to bite the dust. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m at a loss. I mean really, how can a coffee house closure mean so much?

The answer is complicated because it relates to an internal conflict I face each writing day: I’m prone to restlessness (with routines), rebelliousness against “the man” (which means against myself since I’m my own boss), and nocturnal habits (yet I don’t write well at night). 

The challenging part of my writing life is what I call “being a good girl,” which means me — the restless, rebellious, nocturnal woman — fashioning a work week around dull and clean-living habits. This requires more self-discipline out of me than the writing itself!

Unfortunately, to pseudo-quote The Shining by Stephen King: All work and no play makes Lisa a dull girl (with a blocked brain). I have to work with my restless, rebellious self, not banish it. I’ve tried banishment: disaster. Thus, my optimal writing life must also include room for impulsive, procrastinatory, random people-time, which pacifies my bad-girl tendencies just enough to keep me balanced, happy, and writing (happier still).

To this end, Kodi’s was the perfect outlet and therefore crucial to my writing life. Kodi’s was a neighborhood coffee house with a crew of regulars — at least one of whom was sure to be lounging around when I entered — and an owner who became a friend.

Last Thursday during the wake we held after Kodi’s final day, I realized that I wasn’t the only discomposed regular. Our talk over beers and fancy alcoholic coffee drinks revolved around the next nearest cafe and whether it had plush chairs and decent mochas and friendly baristas and WiFi.

My writing life aside, our conversation got me thinking that in our rush-rush-rush, depersonalized world, the break-up of any family — even our rag-tag crew of Kodi’s eccentrics — is ample cause for a mini-funk. I’ll find a new outlet to assuage my bad-girl tendencies; however, I wonder how easily I’ll find such a merry and welcoming coffee-house community.