(April 24, 2009)
Just about every writer has a spot where he/she prefers to work, where ideas seem to flow easily and inspiration seems to abound. For me, that spot is the local Wendy's restaurant. When I am sitting alone at the table at the very back of the eating area, under the sunroom roof, I can work through even the stickiest plot problems or brainstorm character motivations. I don't know why that particular spot is so productive for me -- well, maybe I do. I get my food and then for 30, 45, or 60 glorious minutes, I am anonymous. No one knows me as "Mama" or "Dr. Marlow" and wants the activities that come with that role. I don't even have to worry about doing the dishes when I'm finished eating. For the time I am at Wendy's, I can fully concentrate all my mental effort on my writing.
I always assumed I was anonymous. But today as I was trying to work out how John David would react to being evicted from the land where he and Maggie are illegal squatters, one of the women who works at Wendy's was cleaning the lobby (I usually go after the initial lunch rush is well over). From the corner of my eye, I could tell she was watching me as she wiped the tables. She came closer, and then in her cheeriest voice, she asked if I needed anything else, a refill, maybe? I said no, but I'd made eye contact, and this was her opportunity. She asked, "What are you doing? Everytime you come in here, you are working on something so hard."
Why not? I told her the truth, that I am writing a book and her restaurant is a great place for me to work. I reminded her that J.K. Rowling wrote much of the first Harry Potter book at a coffee shop in her hometown, and I assured her if I ever become famous for this book, I will be sure to put in a plug for Wendy's. I think she thought I was a little crazy, but she accepted my story with an "Oh, cool," and moved on to the next table.
Anyway, at least they won't have to wonder any more!