Panic in the Writing Mind

PanicI have always considered these the blessing moments.

For a few hours, every other Sunday or so, I escape from my life to my local coffee place. There I strip off all my titles—like parent, homeowner, overall responsible adult— and just write.

Three hours or so of writing bliss.

Typically, I come very prepared, never allowing myself to waste this miracle, this gift. I might work on a book or a blog post. Whatever the case, by the time I slowly (very slowly) pack up my computer, I feel spiritually satisfied. Like a box in my mental writing world has been checked. Yes, on the car ride home, I’m already considering what I have to do next (I am always planning), but it is not a stressful thing, more like a passing thought. A smallish fly in the room, not a bee to be swatted.

More importantly for my soul, these moments away from my normal world reminds me who I am. Or at least who I like to imagine I am. Scott Southard, that author dude. Like I said it is all magical in a way… until this moment.

Right here.

I, like a stupid, stupid, stupid idiot, forgot my jump drive. ARGH!

I had this all worked out so, so nicely.

I was going to edit three chapters in the new book I am trying to lock down. And, I thought, keeping the current draft of the book on a jump drive makes it more mobile. I always know what is the current version, that one. On the jump drive. Right there. The one probably sitting on my table at home, not in my computer bag, and NOT nearby me when I need it.

Everything is so perfect, jump drive! My bagel sandwich is next to me, my secret cookie, there is my hot chocolate. My iPhone is playing Fiona Apple on my headphones! Where are you? You are letting me down here!

Take a deep breath, Scott.

You can do this. Just…


Just think of something else to write.

Something else to write? Seriously? I had this all worked out in my mind as a book morning. Not a blog morning, book morning! I can’t just turn one off and turn the other on. It’s like… like… something impossible!

See, see, see!

You see, my brain can’t just do the casual wit thing, I was planning to work in a different world, not this one. I was planning to do something more important (not to say writing on my blog isn’t important, but, jeepers!, this wasn’t the plan).

Think of something… Think…

Movies? Nah… Life stuff? I don’t feel particularly that interesting and… and… Whoa, look at that woman’s hair!

As I type this a woman appeared looking like she just rolled out of bed. Either that or she made a bad attempt at one of those beehive haircuts you sometimes see on the earlier seasons of Mad Men. Once she has gotten her coffee, she holds it like one would a cherished and fragile Christmas present and sips lovingly from it. She must have had a very bad night.

At least she is dressed to be out in public, as compared to the college-aged student behind her in PJ bottoms. I never understood the whole “wearing PJs” out in public thing. Yet, you see it all the time. And to be honest, I can care a little too much about what is on my PJs, which is just ridiculous. Of course, if you ask my kids they love PJ days at their schools. There is a freedom there I can’t put my finger on. Are they simply tapping into that mad energy right before bed when the last of the day has to be claimed? Okay, that explains the kids, but what explains the adult at 9:30 AM in a coffee shop?

Okay, stop judging people. You have to stop…

Check this out! I can see other people’s playlists on my iTunes! They must be connected to the Wi-Fi like me and their iTunes set on a share thing. Can I see their music? No, I’m sure I can’t. I mean that would just be spying like a 1984 thing.

What is interesting is while you have the customers that look like a mess, you have near them the ones looking for a coffee before church. They are decked out to the nines in their best dresses and suits. They certainly make us non-religious types look dirty or more carefree. It’s almost like royalty has entered the shop.

Okay, the other person’s computer music is not that interesting.

When did they stop toasting the bagels? They used to do this great thing with their bagel sandwiches where they would flatten them like in a Foreman grill, now this is barely brown. I could have made this sandwich at home. I like to get something unique when I go out and… why do I keep buying these cookies too? I mean, it is diabolically fun to have a cookie that I don’t have to share with two little kids, but there are better cookies out there in the world than this dry mess of chocolate.

Have I really done 850 words? That is crazy.

Whoa, someone really broke Fiona Apple’s heart. This song is harsh. Fiona seems like a very nice person and fun when she is interviewed, is it the people she is choosing? Or maybe she is really difficult to be around? Artists can be moody. Heck, I can be moody!  I’m being moody right now! I can’t imagine what I must look like to the people around me as I frantically type about nothing, nothing and nothing.

Which reminds me of the first time I had to keep a journal. I was in a college writing course and the professor wanted us to keep one. I always found myself, and my life, pretty boring so the idea of writing about myself just didn’t seem interesting. I would rather do my mad stories, thank you very much. Anyway, the first time I brought my journal entries in, expecting to hand them in and get a thumbs up, instead the teacher walked around with a trash basket asking us to throw them away.

That always felt kind of bad ass to me. I mean, he wasn’t saying that the writing was pointless, it wasn’t like that. He was simply stating that it was for us, it was practice, and we didn’t have to worry about him reading it. That did give me some more freedom in my writing for it, but…

What am I doing!?!

I’m seriously writing about old college classes and journals?

So do others that come to the coffee shop work on writing like me? I have usually imagined that the other people here (I count four at this time) to be small business owners and students. Let’s see, the guy with the boring music is probably a student. I’m guessing at the local community college. He has probably gone back to school to get that degree. He keeps running his hands through his thinning black hair; it must be a difficult class.

Okay, the woman over there is definitely a student. She has the text-book to prove. Oh, look at that… she is using Wikipedia for a source. Wow. I almost wish I could contact her professor.

Stop this, Scott! You are doing a literary stalking thing here and it is not pretty. These people would not appreciate you judging them like this. They are.… Did that guy just buy his kid a coffee?

It has to be hot chocolate, right? But it looks like coffee. It reminds me about how a few days ago I was buying a bottle of wine and I heard a young boy (couldn’t have been more than 12) talking to his dad about drinking beer and how he liked it. The dad didn’t even blink or act the slightest embarrassed or shocked. My mouth was just hanging open, waiting for that father to man up and be a dad, explain how that is not for him, until he is older, blah, blah, blah. But nothing. They just walked away, and the Dad changed the subject.

I wonder what the other writers/students/business owners in here are listening to. We all have headphones, which I think the coffee shop should take as a hint that their music selection sucks. Let me correct that, their music is too loud. I don’t mind bad music, but I would like to be able to cover it up with my headphones.

Did you ever see the video for Fiona Apple’s song Paper bag? It is great. She is dancing with all of these kids in like a 1940’s thing and that was directed by one of her ex-boyfriends. I wonder how many songs he inspired? Consider though, if you break up with someone and it inspires a great song, does it justify the hurt?

Maybe I should find a new place to write? Maybe I should learn to staple my jump drive to my forehead!

I’ve seen jump drives that you can put on your keychain. But I already feel like I have too much on my keychain. I have the Death Star, a guitar from a Paul McCartney concert, a lot of those little scanner cards for stores. When was the last time I went to Pet Smart? I can take that tab off. Man, these things are difficult to remove, I wish I just had a pair of scissors. Forget it.

Deep breath.

Deep… Deep… Okay, exhale.

Scissors beat paper bags, but what beats scissors at a coffee shop? Are the scissors wearing PJ bottoms? Are they studying for a class? A world of scissors and paper bags, each with a computer, listening to music that sounds like slicing and crumpled paper. Do the scissors bother to do their hair? Do they give coffee or beer to the safety scissors walking next to them?

Accept. Reality is calling.

There will always be another writing morning… unless the world ends today. Then I am screwed.

A Jane Austen DaydreamIf you liked reading this post, why not check out one of my books? I’ve had four novels published in the last few years, A Jane Austen Daydream,  Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous DareMy Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my author page here, or as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!

Need an editor? Dream of finishing that book but need some help? Learn about my editing services by visiting this page on my site. Or you can contact Rebecca T. Dickson and request to work with me by clicking the image below.

Rebecca T. Dickson, Editor


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