On writing in Coffee shops and other public spaces…

Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

If you can’t sit in a cafe quietly and be ignored, how can you observe human nature and write a story

Evangeline Lilly

Do you miss those random opportunities to overhear conversations in public spaces? To wonder about the people that you are able to observe. I definitely am looking forward to a future where we can once again gather with our family and friends. Where we are able to move about our daily activities without nervousness and fear.

And I really miss those snippets of life where we happen upon conversations between strangers and are able to absorb the body language and nuances of language that are observed and overheard. Oftentimes these translate into dialogue or story ideas. At times, the necessity to write words down would become urgent following these brief human interactions in day to day life.

Character sketches and those tiny seeds that are planted in our imagination somehow become triggered and released when we are in the company of others. Fragments of those worlds inhabited by other people often gain a foothold once we have momentum in our writing process. It is a sub-conscious process that is barely noticed until it is no longer possible.

Last month during a flash fiction workshop, our facilitator read from recently published works. They came into being from these slices of life that were a part of our pre-pandemic world. A brief interaction on public transit, an overheard discussion while waiting for a friend in a cafe, and spending time in public spaces alone but with others. In our current reality, at best my imagination plays a guessing game where I wonder about the facial expression underneath a mask.

Lattes and cappuccinos can be brewed at home but feeling a part of the world and telling the stories that were once all around us lies off in the distance. For now, I am relying on memory of those moments and will relish the time to come in our future when we are able to safely be around others in public spaces. For now I will write words about our human story as they come and take the time to imagine that I am once again alone in a coffee shop.

Stay healthy and safe!

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