I spend a lot of time deliberating over the ideal writing conditions. In my mind, I am sat in a little cafe in Paris, espresso by my side, scribbling notes by hand as an assortment of interesting people saunter past (this particular imagining features Dali emerging with his anteater by his side). The reality continues to fall short of this. Though I have scoured the many cafes of Brighton for a little corner of my own I always reach the same pattern of feeling I have outstayed my welcome. There are other factors too of course. Having the perfect chair (an old leather one that makes me appear tiny and fragile in comparison, ready to be swallowed by its aged canvas), having the ideal chai latte, good lighting, and enough privacy to remain anonymous in order to not be disturbed. Brighton offers an array of cafes, the most part of which I have quickly learnt to love. There is the Blackbird tea rooms, with its eclectic walls that reflect my grandma’s house; Marwood cafe and its decoration of model spaceships providing an always desirable extra terrestrial vibe; and the more recently discovered Brighton Museum & Art Gallery Cafe that sits on a balcony overlooking the museum, dwarfing the people below into miniatures to be captured on the fresh pages. The latter is a place that I may well feel at home but the truth of it remains.
In actuality, the places that I write are often randomly selected by a spurt of inspiration. Currently I am churning out words, slumped in my housemate’s bed while he listens to Bill Murray singing Christmas songs and tirelessly repeats the same phrase of ‘can we go and watch a film now please?’ Other favourites include the hour train ride from Brighton to London, crouched over my phone while frantically drumming my fingers on the screen in order to fill the yellow notes. Then there’s my front room back in London as my mum attempts to talk to me, only to be answered with sharp grunts that indicate I am otherwise occupied. It is from her that I recently discovered an article detailing the daily routines of writers. The thing that stuck with me was a quote from E.B. White — ‘A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.’ After spending the day talking about the difficulty of motivating oneself to write, a discussion that I seem to have time and time again, the answer seems painfully simple. Write. Write anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Don’t think about it - just do it. If I spent less time deliberating over the logistics of my work, and whether I even have the ability do it, and more time just getting on with it the plague of blank pages may finally cease to exist.
"Starting tomorrow — if not today:
I will get up every morning no later than eight. (Can break this rule once a week.)
I will have lunch only with Roger [Straus]. (‘No, I don’t go out for lunch.’ Can break this rule once every two weeks.)
I will write in the Notebook every day. (Model: Lichtenberg’s Waste Books.)
I will tell people not to call in the morning, or not answer the phone.
I will try to confine my reading to the evening. (I read too much — as an escape from writing.)
I will answer letters once a week. (Friday? — I have to go to the hospital anyway.)"
-From Susan Sontag's diary, 1977