It sucks, actually. Were I able to write in a nice quiet room, I’d be living the easy life. No throwing away bucks on drinks, no snarling at loud gabbers at the adjacent seat, no spending 15 minutes trying to wedge a couple of cardboard drink holders beneath the weak leg on a wobbly table, no hoping Panera’s fireplace is working. I’d simply wake up, drive the kids to school, come home and plop down in my basement office.
I can’t write at home. Just can’t. Too many distractions. The TV, the fridge, the XBox, the bed, the kids, the dog, the ticking clock, the photo albums. Hence, I’ve spent much of my life as a hobo writer, bouncing from Starbucks to Cosi to Panera to Tea Leaf to the Mirage Diner. It’s the story of my existence; an endless, Moses-like walk across the desert.
And yet, once every year I find paradise. It’s here, in Howley’s, a small diner/restaurant in West Palm Beach. Whenever we come down to visit the inlaws, I sneak out one or two nights, drive 20 minutes south and park myself at a corner table. The music is loud, the decor confusing, the food expensive (but friggin’ good), the clientele heavily tattooed and, generally, half my age. Something, though, just clicks. I’m comfortable here; happy here. The words flow, the sentences run. I wish I knew how to bottle this, but … I don’t. Best comparison—my dog Norma’s favorite toy is a mangled green bat. She has nicer items, cooler items. But the bat works.
One more thing—writing in bars/restaurants/cafes evokes an old feeling to me. Hemingway, perhaps. Or Hunter S. Thompson. The idea of these guys sitting in a bar, sipping a bourbon, just pouring out words. I’m no fool—I’m not of their class or ilk. But, every so often, I like to think about them; think that they’d approve of me being here, and not at a kitchen table.