Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Writing at Starbucks (or at least trying)

Several of my writer friends go to a Starbucks store on a regular basis to write, so I decided to try it. I have never been a fan of their coffee. Even the decaffeinated with half hot water is too strong for my tastes. Okay, so apparently I am a wimp when it comes to coffee. But they have good hot tea and their hot chocolate is a rare indulgence.

One of my misconceptions was that their WiFi was free. Silly me! As expensive as their products are, I should have realized they would charge for their internet connection. At $3.95 for a 2-hour session, the price is not prohibitive if I really needed to get connected. Interestingly, my available WiFi connections also showed one for the McDonald’s across the street. The cost for their connection was exactly the same. However, today I am just killing an hour between appointments, so I decided to work offline for a while instead.

What I don’t understand is the widespread appeal of writing at a Starbucks. When the place is crowded with people, there are too many distractions. For example, two young college girls were discussing who they “hooked up with” the previous night, with much more detail than I cared to know, while a pair of business professionals were trying to “one up” each other on how important their careers (and therefore they) were. Even the retired folks who quietly wandered in and out distracted me.

At the top of the hour, it was almost as if the school bell had rung and the majority of the customers cleared out. I thought that would make it easier to concentrate, but no, that was not the case. Then all the noises from the kitchen were irritatingly audible, although it was at the far end of the room from me. How can they let an alarm beep for 73 seconds at a time? Apparently, it bothered me much more than it did them.

Once the beeping stopped, I could hear conversations between the girls behind the counter, unfortunately. At least I think they were considered conversations. Grammatically, their choice of words was appalling. If they left out all the “and he goes…”, “and then I goes…” and all the “you know”s, it was an exceedingly short dialog.

So I learned something today, which is always a good thing. If I want to write, I will do it at home, where I can choose to listen to serene music (or not), or I will visit my local library, where I can enjoy the sounds of silence.

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