I began the venue quest a few blocks from home at a McDonald’s restaurant. It was just before 8 a.m., and I ordered an Egg McMuffin and a large hazelnut iced coffee. (Those things are huge! Have you tried one?) I settled into a booth in the back near the restrooms, I booted the laptop and started to write. A Mickey D’s employee showed up with a broom. “Could you lift your feet, please?” she asked. “I’d like to get at those.” She pointed. I looked down at my moccasin-clad feet and realized that they were planted on a handful of smooshed, catsup-covered fries. “So, what are you writing?” She handed me some napkins so I could wipe the catsup off my shoes. She said she was a poet and suggested that maybe I could help her get published. Just then, a school bus loaded with kids on a field trip showed up. Everyone needed to use the restrooms, and my mini-writing retreat flooded with the sounds of raucous teenaged chatter and constant flushing. Not what I had in mind for quiet creativity, so I moved on to Plan B, the public library.
The third floor of the library is the quiet floor. There’s not much up there except old reference books and some nice, comfy reading sofas. It was still early, and I was the only one there. Perfect! I chose a sofa near a window and started to write. I heard the elevator door open. Coughing. More like retching. It was heading toward me. Did I have my cell phone on and could I grab it fast if I needed to? The cougher was a greasy-haired, bearded guy who smelled like cheap bourbon. His clothes looked, well, let’s just say they looked slept in. “You gonna be here long?” He eyed my sofa which I decided was his. “I don’t think so,” I heard myself say. He stared at me with glassy eyes. “I’m just packing up,” I added, already stuffing my laptop into its bag. I got out of there in a big hurry. So much for Plan B.
Plan C was the local nature preserve. I wasn’t dressed for hiking, but I knew about a path in the woods that led to a quiet picnic table near a stream. I walked the quarter of a mile, and before long, I was writing peacefully surrounded by all kinds of nature. Now, anyone who knows me would tell you that I’m a nature nut. All I need to see is the edge of an unfamiliar fleeting feather, and I’m off on a mission to find out not only what kind of bird it is, but also the sound of its call, its summer and winter habitats and its migration schedule. There were plenty of birds in my retreat spot, and I needed to get up close and personal with and Google all of them. I didn’t get much writing accomplished, but I came away proud of myself for seeing several White-winged Crossbills.
So, here I am in my home office writing a blog post. I haven’t given up searching for an ideal, or even so-so, place for a mini-writing retreat. I’ll try again next week. Maybe then I’ll go to the new trout hatchery or the “Streets of Yesteryear” exhibit at the historical museum. The possibilities for distraction there are endless, but sometimes it’s distractions that breed ideas for great creative writing.
Where would you like to write?