I have read a few stories about writers who spend hours in restaurants, bistros, bars, parks and libraries tapping into that special inspiration available only in such public venues. It is sometimes implied that writing produced in such an unlikely place is somehow better.  I don’t believe a word of it.

I harbor no such illusions. As a matter of fact I seem to do best when there are no “public” distractions around me. (Disclaimer: by “do best” I do not infer any measure of quality or even grammatical correctness to what I write. Doing best, simply refers to me having fun and being in some way satisfied with the process and now and then the product.)

I used to write poems more than I do now, and I often pulled out a pad and pencil to jot down a memorable word or phrase or idea. Seldom did a full blown verse appear in the restaurant or bus stop or on the park bench where I happened to be at the time. That instant recording of the fleeting thought proved, on more than a few occasions, to have been helpful. Not altogether unlike amending a grocery list on the way to the market.

These days, when I write, I find that I mostly do so on the keyboard. I never would have dreamt that I’d say that. I have always been a pencil ( of the lead type ) and paper writer, and find that tactility – the scratch of the lead upon the paper – to be a satisfying sensation. It makes me flash back to those Big Chief lined tablets at Wyandotte Elementary. Nowadays I find that if I think I’ll be out long and will have any time to myself, I will include my laptop in my kit bag and quite often never even light it up. But it’s there, should the flash of inspiration suddenly blind me.

( Disclaimer #2: I am presently in a public place patiently waiting for a sudden stroke of location inspiration. So far, I might as well be napping on my couch at home. )

I am reminded of that period in my adult middle life when I was single, how in such situations, I would be more interested in staking out the shapely form of the female bottom, or the profile of a smallish bust line, letting my mind do the rest of the work. Fortunately for all who could possibly be characters in my fantasy play, I am, these days, as likely to pursue such an action as I am to fly. I will say, however, that given the exigences of aging, which include the progressive and irrevocable process of deterioration, the mind is as racy as ever. Blessing or burden? Forgive me Jesus, but you-know-Who gave me the mind in the first place. Deal with it.

As I have noted: nothing is happening. There is one thing and it is this: I rather enjoy doing this in a public place. So far, I have seen few people as they passed down one or the other aisles in this library. I’ll have to try this in a coffee shop soon. More stimulation. I see people in coffee shops with their huge computers and they are constantly looking around to see who’s looking back. I want to tell them to find the darkest and most remote corner and stay out of the way, AND don’t take up that nice window seat where I actually want to sit and have an actual cup of coffee, dammit!

When I am really brave, I’ll try a bar. The problem there is that I never have been a bar guy. And after a few beers I am liable to say things, for which, I would rather not be held accountable. If you know what I mean.

Well, I have a book to check out. Really. Then it’s off to an afternoon of digging in the dirt. No matter how I try, I can’t escape the overwhelming ordinariness of my life. I don’t even think I can say with a straight face, “I couldda been a contender”. But if the truth be known, and surely it must, it’s what’s happening now that is important. And now, I am having fun in a public library.

A glass of summer ale would indeed be nice.

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