What! It’s my turn to post again? Already?? Four weeks go by like nothing these days.
I am not a person who is comfortable (read, confident) as a writer. I always feel like I am sitting in someone else’s chair. It takes tremendous will and discipline for me to settle into the task, especially when there are so many other things I would rather do (like, say, the laundry). I find it wise to just remove myself from the distractions of home and studio.
I know some writers like plunking themselves down in the middle of some bustling social hotspot to write, but I don’t know how they do it. I’ve tried coffee shops and cafes, but I usually can’t handle the playlist and/or I keep eavesdropping on other people’s conversations (I mean really, do you think he’s worth the effort?…). On top of that, I feel slightly guilty spending hours sitting there having purchased one measly cup of tea.
I prefer to go to my neighborhood library.
My library isn’t silent, but it is quiet. There are the sounds of pages turning, toddlers “reading” books to their parents, people (like me) tapping away on their laptops, and the occasional hum of check-out receipts being printed. A few afternoons when I’ve been there a rosy-cheeked elderly gentleman has come in, placed his cane on the table, sat in one of the oak reading chairs with his newspaper, and gone to sleep. Neither he nor I have had to buy anything to claim a seat, and best of all, nobody bugs us. We all understand that we are gathered here to respect and immerse ourselves in the written word without fear of intrusion. It’s like a church without a pulpit, and more than one book.
All libraries are wonderful places to hang out in, but I must say my branch is particularly pleasant. A Carnegie library originally built in 1910, it has high ceilings with tall windows rounding the perimeter and a skylight in the middle. It feels downright holy sometimes.
It also has a display case in the entryway that has become a showplace for children’s favorite collections and accumulations. My daughters both staged exhibitions in this case many years ago – my eldest her rock collection and my youngest a massive array of button pins. I always check the case first thing when I come in. Today Ashly is showing off her plastic horses.
I love my local library. I have spent many comfortable, un-distracted hours in this space, and I know I couldn’t have gotten this post out today without it!
What a lovely analogy…the library like a church without a pulpit. I can’t help but think of the contrast with our local Barnes & Noble bookstore. It’s the only large bookstore left in the Tacoma/Pierce County area. Books are losing out more and more. A large section of the store was recently converted into an “educational” toy department. When I walked in the other day I encountered a young boy jumping up and down with a plastic guitar in hand emulating a rock star. He was oblivious to his surroundings. All the while his mom was shouting, “Justin, chill out!” Announcements blared over the piped in music urging customers to go buy cheesecake available in the cafe. The store was filled with crowds of folks milling about in some sort of retail daze. A vivid contrast to the serene picture you painted!
This is just wonderful, Margaret. I love reading your essays. Yes, I’m calling them essays; posts are too ‘easy’ and I have the same relationship to writing you do. I have to sneak up on it, preferably half asleep.
Ashley: I love your herd!
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