One of my goals for the New Year was to test out some new writing venues. While writing at Niner Bravo has been productive I felt that it would be helpful to have some external stimulation. Niner Bravo is a bit of a windowless cave. So I decided to try writing in different venues around the city and did so last week. It was so successful that next week I’m going out on the town again.
The process was better than expected and I ended up writing 6000-7000 words over the week which is a VERY good week for me. As I mentioned, I am SLOW.
Here’s a run down of my Cafe a Day adventure around Boston and Cambridge. I think I’ll be hitting up Somerville and Allston next week so look out!
DAY ONE: Tealuxe, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
Beverage of Choice: Lemongrass Tea and Chaider
Work Completed: Major edits to chapters one, two and six and 1500 new words outside of those chapters.
Let me admit that unlike most writers I don’t drink coffee (LOVE the taste, can’t handle the caffeine). So Tealuxe is like a dream to me. I’ve been going there since High School and it holds a lot of memories, plus the musty dark wood and perfumed air really awaken my inner goth. A portion of my novel takes place in Harvard Square, why it never occurred for me to write here before is beyond me. It’s also a place that’s laden with so many of my adolescent memories, and I try to get in tune with that whenever I write. I didn’t realize that just being in Harvard would bring back more pulsing nostalgia than listening to Mazzy Star or the Pixies or Nirvana. Consequently I was filled with words.
DAY TWO: Espresso Royale, Commonwealth Ave, Boston MA
Beverage of Choice: Rooibos Latte
Work Completed: Editing of Monday’s new work, ~700 new words
Day two was a bit of a rush as I had some errands to run in the morning, a hockey game at Fenway and a movie (HUGO) in the afternoon. But I wanted to make sure I got some solid writing time. It was pretty blissful at ERC, right next to BU, because all the students were on Christmas break. I like the ERC over near Northeastern University a little bit better as it has a grungy art school vibe much more so than this one. I’ll probably hit that one up next week.
DAY THREE: Boston Common Coffee Company, Washington St, Boston, MA
Beverage of Choice: Earl Grey Tea
Work Completed: ~700 Words
I was actually aiming for The Thinking Cup which I had been to once before but it was completely packed. So I opted for BCCC which was around the corner.
I had a really hard time getting into the groove in this place. Maybe because I had my sites set on The Thinking Cup, which has a slightly more homey vibe. I take singing lessons at the Steinway Building on Tremont Street and these are the only two independent cafes in the area. As far as I can tell BCCC is an independent shop, yet it definitely has a sterile corporate vibe despite the art work and plush couches. If I’m going to be writing before singing class I’m going to have to find a way to either fall in love with this place or force myself into The Thinking Cup even if it means taking out a couple of Emerson students in the process.
DAY FOUR: Andala Cafe, Central Square, Cambridge, MA
Beverage of Choice: Peppermint Tea
Work Completed: ~2000 new words
Andala is a beautiful cafe on the cusp of Central Square. It’s the closest to my house but I’ve only been there two or three times in all my years living in the area. Truthfully I spend a lot more time in bars than cafes, which is something I’m working to change. I’m trading in the rock n’ roll, at least for these few months, for the full-time literary life. I’ll still do some management tasks here and there but my goal is to get this book done by April, May at the lastest so it will require a measure of abstinence in certain areas. Maybe that’s as counterintuitive as my not drinking coffee, but I’ve never been much good at writing with booze in my hand.
Anyway, Andala aesthetically is a great match for me. It’s filled with beautiful light fixtures and gorgeous windows and wall hangings. They staff is attentive but the whole place has a leisurely feel. I really liked working here and went back on Sunday night to get some reading done. Living in a college town can make finding seats in a cafe pretty difficult but Andala typically seems to have at least some seating. And you cannot beat the delicious goat cheese and fruit plate (you can see it sneaking into my photo above).
DAY FIVE: Blue State Cafe, Commonwealth Ave, Boston MA
Beverage of Choice: Peppermint Tea (again)
Work Completed: ~1500 new words
I was slightly hesitant to try this place. Even though I am flaming Massachusetts liberal the name rubbed me the wrong way (I know *so* superficial). But again, owing to the college students still being on break this was a really pleasant place to work. It’s right next door to BU so I don’t know that I’ll be visiting it again unless it’s Spring Break or Summer but I set myself up by the counter and it was a quiet and mellow place to work.
It’s pretty bright in there, which is not usually my scene, but the staff was so friendly and the music was so good that I got into a groove pretty quickly. Having the young energy of the staff (at most of these places) has also been great inspiration in channeling my young adult energy. On the way over the BU bridge home I had a powerful insight into my main character Violet, so a very productive endeavor indeed.
I think getting away from my normal environment and out into the world is something I’ve got to do far more often. I’m going to ensure I write outside of Niner Bravo at least once a week, and I’d like to spend a week a month exploring more writing spots around the city. Once the weather is nice again this can expand to outdoor parks or sidewalk seating.
I think, just to carry the momentum that I’ll be Cafe hopping again next week. So you’ll all get the run down, maybe in less detail. I also plan to talk about some new YA books I’ve been reading. I got a Kindle for Xmas and as much as I love REAL books it’s been a wonderful portable friend.