Starbucks

You know the guy sitting in the corner at Starbucks, typing away on his laptop and just desperately hoping someone will ask him what he’s doing so he can brag about his novel.

That’s me.

Well, not really. I’ve got enough social anxiety that I’d usually prefer to be ignored, and that’s more true than normal these days because I’m so busy. Even if I had the confidence to brag to coffee shop strangers about my books, I wouldn’t have time to right now. I need to write the next chapter!

But I am typing away on my laptop at Starbucks. I’ve also been at Vintage Timeless Coffee (a local indie) and Full Cup (another local indie) and On the Border (I much prefer chips and salsa to coffee) and IHOP…anywhere I can get a WiFi connection. I’ve even broken down a time or two and popped into the college library.

I know. It’s weird. I haven’t been inside a library since Google.

Anyway! I was really excited about getting to work full-time as a writer, but it’s surprising how difficult it really is to work full-time as a writer. I spend a lot of time cruising around, picking places, packing up the laptop and unpacking it, then cursing when it runs out of power and I realize I left the charger at home.

I’ve tried working at home, too. That’s worth a post of its own, but here’s the short version:

  • In order to write my stories well, I have to leave reality behind and step into my story world for hours at a time.
  • My family is, frankly, too wonderful for me to easily leave behind. If I even have the option, I’ll focus on them instead of my story, so I have to get out of the house or I’m useless.

So! I’ve been a full-time writer for several weeks now, but I’ve barely outperformed the writing I was getting done in my free time before. I’d like to say I’ve been having a lot more fun in between, but I have such frantic deadlines that I’ve really just been stressing about word count.

But there’s good news to follow on the bad. Last week, I met with an office manager at a local place called PC Executives who provide “Executive Suites” in the Oklahoma City area. That’s a handy way to rent an office when all you want is an office–a little room with space for a desk and a couple guest chairs.

They provide the receptionist and the expensive scanner/printer/copier and the fancy break room and all the services you’d have at a “real” office, and you get a little place to call your own.

It’s a short-term solution (the Consortium is going to need a big place of its own before too long), but the nice thing is that they’re set up to be a short-term solution. I should be able to start using my office sometime this week, and I’m not stuck with any kind of long lease commitment.

Hmm. I don’t know if this will be at all interesting to you guys, but on my end, it’s all kinds of awesome. I can’t wait make the commute again, show up at work, sit down at my desk, and put in my eight hours.

Or seven. Or…well, four. And then fourteen. And back to seven. It’s not about punching a clock, man! It’s about having a dedicated place. And this time, it’s dedicated to storytelling.

I can’t wait.

9 thoughts on “Starbucks

  1. Heather Sutherlin

    That is awesome! I need one of those, too. Alas, it isn’t in my near future. I just know you are going to soak it up, though, when you find your spot. I wonder if the Mrs. might appreciate that, too, hmmm?

    1. Aaron Pogue Post author

      I’m really hoping she will. I know she hates it when I come home frustrated from all the writing I didn’t get accomplished.

      More than that, I really want to get out of the habit of working all the time. Last fall, I had a day job, plus my writing, plus the Consortium work, plus my Master’s program.

      A month from tomorrow, I’ll be down to just the Consortium work. I’ll be able to do all the work things I used to do in my free time as my day job, and I have high hopes I’ll be able to leave work at work, and just spend my evenings at home hanging out with my family.

      And the office space should really help facilitate that, because it creates a clear delineation. If that aspect of it works out, the Mrs. will definitely be pleased.

  2. Kevin O

    It is always a surprise how little one does when working from home. I think laptops are the main cause, as you end up lying on a sofa with the laptop on your stomach. Your family can’t think of you as actually WORKING and they are often right. The internet may also be a contributor.

  3. Alex

    You were only previously a part time writer? You seem to push your books out so quickly though (which is great, as I’m eagerly awaiting the third book of your dragonprince series).

    Also, were you an IT major or something? It’s quite refreshing reading novels (and watching some of these new TV shows ala TBBT) that integrate actual real-world IT terminology and ideas. It’s so much more entertaining than the previous generation of movies/books where everything is blown wildly out of proportion to the point where it’s beyond unrealistic.

    1. Aaron Pogue Post author

      Hey, Alex! I was indeed a part-time writer, but here’s the trick: I’ve been a (pretty serious) part-time for more than a decade now. (I started the first draft of Taming Fire back in 1998.) But I’ve only been publishing for about eighteen months. So I’ve got a bunch of old material that I’m rolling out.

      In fact, Restraint (which I just released in February) is the first book I’ve published that was written after I started publishing. I do hope to add Faith (Ghost Targets, #5), The Dragonprince’s Heir (The Dragonprince Trilogy, #3), and The First Myth (The Islanders Trilogy, #1) to that list this year. But even those will have been more than a year in the making.

      So chances are good my rate of production will slow once I use up the older material. Then again, I haven’t even touched my post-apocalyptic thrillers (Sleeping Kings) yet, and who knows how fast I’ll be able to write once it’s my main job?

      In answer to your second question, I was never an IT major, but all my best friends were (that, or programming). That overlap in interest served me well in Technical Writing while that was my day job (translating Engineer into English), and I try to pour it into the Ghost Targets books as much as possible.

  4. J. A. Self

    Hey Aaron, I had a similar experience. I had to repeatedly tell family members that my writing time was sacred, don’t come knocking on the door, don’t ask me to do anything unless it’s an emergency. They were good about it for the most part, but it takes constant reinforcing.

    I’m like you, I have to lose myself in the work for at least an hour to hit my productivity groove. Family doesn’t seem to understand that asking me to do something that will just take a couple of minutes will actually cost me ten or twenty minutes of getting back into focus. After the fourth or so “tiny thing” in a writing day I get very frustrated. Heaven forbid I try to go get a glass of water or a snack, because obviously then I’m fair game for anything (walk the dog, grocery shopping, home improvement).

    At one point my wife was working about an hour away from home. She’s not much of an interstate driver, I can work from wherever, so I drove her to work every day. I spent the time in libraries or coffee shops, and I learned a few things that helped me a lot.

    1. It doesn’t matter if people are around me as long as I have no expectation that they will interrupt me or look at my screen. The noise and movement in this kind of place actually helps me focus.
    2. In fact, having someone sitting across from me at the next table, especially someone hard at work, keeps me focused.
    3. The community college library was quiet and basically empty. It was also a little uncomfortable, which made it hard to spend much time there (despite contraband snacks and drinks). By the time I got my stuff there, set up, and got into a good state of mind, I was physically ready to leave.
    4. Having a regular schedule helped in some ways, but other times I just wasn’t ready to start writing in the morning. Sometimes I would sit down at night at home and work like crazy. Sometimes I also got a lot out of taking several one or two minute breaks to walk around or drive somewhere. They say that because of how we’re wired, moving helps us to process things when they get stuck.

    When I work at home there are always a million things that could be done, and a thousand that need to be done eventually, and ten or so that need to be done that day, and ALWAYS something that needs to be done right away. Something that isn’t writing. The only way I’ve been able to get respect for my writing time is to be kind but blunt and aggressive in saying I’m not available. That can still cause problems, but I think aside from perfect family members or having an office at home it will always be that way.

    1. Aaron Pogue Post author

      Thanks for sharing. And, yeah, every one of your points fits my experience.

      I’m also realizing how much the big interruptions slow me down. Specifically, in my case, it’s the long drive down to campus and a couple hours of classes. All told, it’s only four hours out of my afternoon two days a week, but I’ve learned those days are not good for much else. I can get some minor chores taken care of, and if I’m really lucky I can get in an hour of unbroken writing time in the morning, but that’s the best I’ve managed.

      Luckily, that particular problem is self-correcting. I just have to wait it out. I have three weeks left on my Master’s degree, and then my schedule becomes my own.

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