I often write in cafes - places where I can be anonymous, invisible, busy. I like to remain silent, apart and yet coast on the conversation and buzz of everyone and everything around. Music, good music, extraordinary and unexpected music, really really helps. I like the serendipity, what goes on outside the little pool of quiet framed between my cup of coffee and my plate of cake. It takes me back to my childhood, where I was one of six close siblings, immersed in a world of books to a background of family noise. Even now I am very skilled at concentrating in the middle of conversations, and that includes conversations in which I am supposed to be taking part. Sometimes I am a bit too good at tuning out. And, bolstered by the noise, I feel at home. This is where I most readily lose myself.
I tend to write by hand in cafes. I proofread there. I write lists, ideas, first drafts of short pieces - whole haiku. More often I redraft. I like to take printouts of computer work and eye them with my special cafe eye. It's a good place to rejig visual pieces, look over short stories as if it wasn't me that wrote them, pick apart poems.
My most regular haunt is in Todmorden, where I live. I visit this cafe mainly in late afternoon - not too many people, lower noise levels, mellow music. It is when the cafe staff are winding down, when a table by the window might be free.
I could be totally anonymous here. The staff might recognise me and have a word as I buy my coffee but no one knows my name. Well no one did. That's not the case any more. Now I am Judy Poet. Incredible Edible Poet. Todmorden Poet Laureate. And it's nice. And I do still have the space to settle down to write. But I am no longer invisible. The anonymity is gone.
My family think it's great I've got to know more people. I like it too. But if I want to reclaim that precious anonymity I might have go further afield, perhaps as far as Hebden Bridge....
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