I’m just such a sucker for cafés. It’s almost a default activity. Even though I no longer dare drink coffee other than the one I have first thing with breakfast. I’m tending these days to go for the pot of Earl Grey.
I almost use a café visit as an artist’s treat or maybe as a reward for having achieved something: picked up a royalty cheque, completed a project or had a piece of work or a project accepted. Then, of course, I’m allowed to try the cake as well. As a celebration.
Yet there is more to it than that. Being in a café feels to me as if it puts me in contact with my readership. I don’t often write in cafés – I like to write straight on to the computer. But I do make notes and I enjoy reading other people’s work in cafes. I often find a café the best place to critique other people’s work. I like to sit with a pencil in my hand and write straight on to their scripts, even though they stand more chance of being able to read what I say if I do it in Word and use Track Changes.
I still dream of spending an afternoon in café – maybe getting on with my writing, chatting to other people about theirs and collecting stories, maybe even signing and selling a few books. Over and above that, of course, you can collect characters and ideas in cafés and they are good antidotes to the loneliness that most writers feel.