My landlord is uprooting some trees around my apartment today. It is a necessary evil as they are apparently beginning to wreak havoc with the plumbing around the building, and they are not a protected species. It's a drastic move and it will be a significant change to the landscape around my home. These are three very large trees, so it is a huge, noisy, messy, disruptive, annoying undertaking, and it has driven me out of the house.
I left the house in search of somewhere to write, somewhere conducive to the creative process, and landed at . At first I had to perch at the counter in the front window which was a great place to actually read a book as the sun shone in. Then I was lucky enough to commandeer a table and plug in the computer. I'm perfectly content to stay here awhile and I am more than happy to keep buying my share of coffee and pastries.
I saw a few familiar faces, took time out for a coffee with an old friend, did some very productive eavesdropping and daydreaming, and then finally did some work. I used to do this a lot, especially when I was working from home as a freelance writer. Every couple of days I would feel the need to "take it on the road." To change my scenery and work from somewhere else. Whether I was trying to complete an assignment or working through some new writing exercises or scribbling on a new personal story, a new environment could often spark a new idea or move me past a particularly tricky bout of writer's block.
When I started at the full-time job I have now, I found it very difficult to be at the same desk in the same office behind the same computer screen all day long. In fact, it's still difficult for me. Every once in a while, I will grab a legal pad and a pencil and go hide out in one of our conference rooms and start writing things out longhand for whatever new grant or brochure we need to send out. The first time I did this my boss seemed a little concerned. She poked her head in and asked if I was having some kind of spiritual, come-to-Jesus moment by myself on office time. I told her it was a little like that but that I was really doing work for her. I don't know if she understood, but she left me alone.
Every time I pick up my computer or my journal and go out in public to write I am instantly reminded how good it is for me. My mother is painter (among other things) and she gets so inspired by the days when she and a friend take their portable easels or sketch books out to the beach and take in the scenery. It's a whole different skill trying to capture that live and changeable environment in whatever time she has rather than working from a photograph back in her studio. But neither one of us does this as often as we should.
Now, I'll be honest. If you see me out writing in a public place chances are I am stealing bits and pieces of stories from the folks around me. Sorry, that's just what we do. The older gentleman trying to explain Amazon's new "cloud" technology to one of his friends. The college student slurping up noodles and spilling things at the table next to me. The mom trying to keep her son from eating the ice cream he dropped on the floor. They are all going in the vault. But mostly just having all this life going on around me sparks ideas and memories that are completely unrelated.
Beantown is easy, but I know there are more places in Sierra Madre I could be working. The parks, the Library, some of the other restaurants, maybe even in Kersting Court. I am not sure if other artists from other media are on the road with their work in town, though. Are you painting up in or maybe in the cemetery? Are you sketching under the wisteria vine at ? Can musicians and actors and sculptors work out in public like I can, and if so where do you go? Are you able to soak up the atmosphere and tune out the distraction at the same time? Where do you go when they are tearing down your trees but you just have to get some work done? Because I'm looking for new scenery to steal.