These past few months I’ve been woefully out of touch. My blog sits unused with a post dated from early September dangling out there in the digital ether. Notes from my agent are getting stale on my desk. A sequel to The Revelation of Gabriel Adam awaits a completion of the first draft.
Yet, I just can’t seem to get it together.
Perhaps it’s having an eight-month-old child at home to contend with, or the grind of trying to lock down a job, but motivation has been a struggle to find.
Worse, I’m writing this from a coffee shop in Seaside, Florida. In paradise, it’s difficult to find motivation to do much of anything. Something struck me, though, as the barista handed me my cappu-latte. This place has atmosphere.
The shop isn’t a large one and the constant whir of grinding beans and tinking of glass cups on saucers makes it seem even smaller. The bar takes up most of the floorspace, selfishly hoarding elbow room for the staff and leaving only a long and narrow one-sided bench pressed up against the opposite wall with a few chairs full of customers waiting on their orders. At the far wall is a six-top where I’ve managed to spread out most of my books, notes, and computer in an effort to have osmosis jump-start my creativity.
I don’t know what kind of crowd I was expecting for this Thanksgiving week, but Seaside is slammed. Two deep at the till, the bubbly-eyed girl is having a difficult time fielding orders, credit cards, and dollar bills as they fly through the air. Some guy behind her with a face full of scruff and a head full of purposefully messed up hair is orbiting her in a kinetic angst fueled by the orders stacking up by the register. He barks out for another pickup to a customer that’s inevitably walked away.
All along the walls are black and white canvas pictures of smiling Ngäbe people picking coffee beans. One giant, close-up color image of calloused hands holding a scoop of red beans over an overflowing wicker basket hangs over my table. I wonder how many cappu-lattes that basket would make. The homage to a notoriously underpaid and exploited race seems an odd decoration choice amongst the six-dollar beverages and I’m struck by a twinge of guilt as I sip mine.
People pass by the front windows, some of them shopping; others going to or from the beach. The temperature hovers somewhere in the lower sixties - cold enough for anyone from the south to wear a jacket and warm enough for anyone from the north to wear a bikini. It’s a laughable mix of skin and polar fleece.
I'm reminded what atmosphere can do for the imagination, whether you’re reading or writing. It can be like spice. Too little may leave you in a flavorless boredom and too much can overpower. For now, at least, I’ve found enough to inspire some momentum. If you’re keen, stop by FromtheWriteAngle.com, where we can talk a little more specifically about atmosphere and writing.