I recently had a negative review on Amazon, where the reader criticised the fact that my self-employed character, Tig, wasn’t just a coffee shop customer, she was a well known regular, who’d made friends with the staff. The reviewer seemed to find this irritating, but when you’re self employed, you do find yourself frequenting the same places, and getting to know people. Similarly, as I share my barista experience in ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’, I often remembered the customers, because they were in so frequently, and shared their stories.
I can’t always work at home. I get distracted by the washing that needs to be done, or it’s too cold, too hot, too dark. I put the TV on in the background (but then get distracted). So I turn the TV off, and it’s too quiet. The only time I work at home is in the evening, because I like there to be someone else in, to have background noise and to not feel so alone.
So I thought I’d make a list of my Top Five Favourite Places to Write:
Cinnamon Square, Rickmansworth
A gorgeous bakery/cafe with a tudor style building, higgledy piggledy walls, and magic happening in the bakery at the back. Often the gentle twang of Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly provides my background music, and I like alternating between writing and thinking about what cake I want. The coffee isn’t too strong, which means I can keep up the steady stream of Americanos throughout the day. Plus, if it isn’t busy, they let me sit at the huge bench in the snug, which is both great for writing and people watching. And the food is delicious , and they don’t get annoyed at me for sitting there for hours. Have currently written about a third of my WIP in here. If you’re in Hertfordshire, don’t miss out.
Drink Shop Do, Caledonian Road (London)
I actually set ‘My So-Called (Love) Life’ in this cafe/restaurant/home of awesomeness. It’s where I started the novel, where I’ve sat writing quite a few times, and where I meet writing clients, authors and friends. The cake is awesome, and I massively enjoy the array of events and art here. The tea comes in mismatched pots and cups/saucers, and the food is lovely. You pay London prices, and occasionally there can be an air in the evenings that you’re not really cool enough to be there, but that’s the price you pay for being a messy writer girl.
My Mum’s Dining Table
Sadly, this one isn’t open to the public, but there’s something about the height of the table, the sunshine through the windows, the puppy sitting at my feet and the frequent offers of tea that really works! Although when it’s winter and cold, it becomes dangerously possibly to curl up on the sofa with too many episodes of ‘Say Yes to the Dress’.
The Workshop, Norwich
I used to live down the road from this cafe when I was a student. Somewhere that did beer, art, free wifi and made fish finger sandwiches? They have a ‘study space’ in the basement that’s got comfy seating, and really strange pictures that seem to be the equivalent of Victorian porn. Well, it’s inspiration, right?
Cafe International, Haight Street
A great coffee shop in San Francisco. Reasonably priced, ridiculously delicious bagels, and most importantly they put frozen coffee ice cubes in their iced coffee so it doesn’t dilute! Genius.