Whatever happened to the pubs of yore where great writers, aspiring writers, pseudo-writers can congregate to scribble, doodle, or type furiously upon their laptop of choice? Where is that haven for writers, that soothingly dim room with orbs of warm light upon tables, booths and bars? What am I talking about (insert face palm)–I live in the United States…southern United States at that, where west meets Mexico, where staunch independents proudly display their Secede from the Union bumper stickers, where the official state sport is football (the padded and heavily geared sport) no matter the age bracket, where rifles are racked in pickup trucks and cowboy boots are worn year round (despite heat indices of 100+ degrees). The land of tumbleweeds, dust and endless miles of highway construction. This land that is Texas blooms with transplants, with people seeking refuge from state taxation. As much as I bemoan the hair-brained drivers, the traffic congestion, the dust, the heat, the sun-bleached earth; I do love my city. I admire it’s maturation from the languid, casual cowboy swagger to the modern, conservative sophistication. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes!–where are the oases for moody brooders to script away their time?
In a land of sports fans, the local pubs (bars, et al.) are decorated with loud flatscreen TVs. A friend and I recently visited a fairly new pub. The decor was rustic with a modern-vintage touch (yes, modern-vintage, because Edison didn’t have lightbulbs that were that cool and yet old-looking, and one did not design a bathroom sink–because they didn’t have bathroom sinks back then–entirely out of pipes and cut glass for the basin) that reflected the essence of cowboy country. Lo and behold, upon crossing the threshold our senses were bombarded by a barrage of noises, and endless streams of auditory attacks. Each booth came equipped with it’s own flatscreen. I kid you not. Every available ESPN channel splayed upon these HiDef, mid-air suspended screens, and then some. Major League Baseball, pre-season football, kiddie baseball–good God! the options seemed infinitesimal.
Where can one find refuge to write? (And please, do not answer “the home”. THAT is a given, but even writers do need to get out of the home.) Several weeks ago I came across an online list of alternative places for writers to do their thing.
The mall, it suggests. That could work for some. But have you been to the mall lately? If your mall is anything like our mall, loud music blares constantly from the loud speakers (apropos the apparatus is dubbed a “loud speaker”).
The museum. Yes, I can find that option attractive. The museum is serenity in spatial order. Loads of inspiration waiting to be birthed. Tables and comfy chairs anywhere? Nope. But by golly the lighting is superb!
Outdoors…the park per se. It would be divine if one lived in San Francisco or Napa or Portland. But not for the inhabitants of Texas. At least not during late spring, summer or early autumn…and probably not during winter, either.
Is there no such place of semi-solitude with protection from the elements and a nice place to rest one’s bum and paper (and/or laptop)?
Alas, sweet joy of discovery! I did happen upon such a place. I call it a pub. The interior is dark paneled. There are a couple of flat screens (let’s face it, we cannot escape these darned contraptions), but they are muted with closed caption. Oh bounteous joy! Alas a proprietor who understands! There are booths and intimate circular tables, high-backed chairs in corners for small parties, and the barstools are amply spacious in diameter and generously cushioned. Small lamps provide pools of warm glow. The general conversations of patrons are loud enough that you cannot hear a pin drop, but not too loud that you cannot ignore. It is a haven with happy hour munchies for only $3.95 and drinks the price of Starbucks.
I feel out of practice with my writing. It often gets passed over by other things vying for my attention or curiosity. Before I discovered Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, I wrote. I was fearless about scribbling out a story; I didn’t care whether I finished the story or not. The thing that fueled me was the need to write. Something. Anything. Just write. After I finally finished my first major work of fiction, I stopped writing. Odd, isn’t it? Why the hell did I stop writing?
I emerged on the other side having completed a 700+ page volume of work and experienced what that required. I poured myself into the project. It consumed my time and my energies. I lived and breathed it; I sweated, I cried; I laid awake at nights formulating, delving into my characters’ heads and emotions.
I do not know that I am ready to undertake that again. So, I stay away from writing. Instead I read, I research, I design, I cook, I photograph. Anything but write.
I hear the call, now a weak whisper, beckoning me to return. I have always heard it, I just chose to ignore it. Yeah, yeah, I know I should write. But I do not. The fear that confronts me when I lift pen to paper or place my fingers upon the keyboard is that I will not be able to articulate what I want to show.
These words that are found in books, that are spoken on screens; these words that I jot down in my journal when inspiration strikes but briefly. These words are the vehicles–my vehicles–that I summon to take you into my world. These words often leave me like a beggar on the street. And then these words appear like a swift current and along I go.
“You don’t have to make shit up. The good stuff’s in you.” – James Victore
What I am learning with regards to writing is that the fear will always be there, but I can disprove the fear. The more I write, the more the words will come. You know this familiar quote: practice makes perfect. By writing more I am practicing; however, I am not aiming for perfection. Gasp! Yep, you read that right. Perfection kills creativity. It’s the quirks, the odd-shaped birthmark if you will, that are the crowning nuances of your craft. Why aim for perfection when we are all so uniquely different? The things you and I bring to the table are our human experiences. Do not let perfection mar your work. Put yourself into your work, your gift, your craft, and it will touch people much more than perfection ever will.
I have determined that one day a week, I will go to the pub. I will find an available spot for me to lay my bum and paper, order a drink and some nibbles, and write.
What about you? What is something you will do this week to hone your craft?