“A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them.”
William Stafford

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

The Mobile Office, Downtown Boulder Edition
Tue 2010-06-01 20:03:23 (in context)
  • 631 words (if poetry, lines) long

From the Amtrak to the BX, from the station straight to work. John and I just got back this morning on a train from Chicago, having spent a fantastically action-packed Memorial Day weekend there. A night spent in sleeping accommodations meant we were well-rested and ready to get back to our respective jobs pretty much the moment we pulled in.

For both of us, since May 17, our respective jobs are primarily in downtown Boulder. Which is to say: John took a position with a small programming start-up in a location he can bus, bike, or even walk to (in good weather and with 45 minutes to spare), and I happily rearranged my own writing routine such that I accompany him there most days. He goes to the office, and I go to some place quiet and endowed with electrical outlets and wi-fi. Maybe I do my Morning Pages on a bench by the creek, maybe pull out the laptop and do some freewriting, until the Boulder Public Library opens at 10:00. (Once I gave into temptation and spent the pre-library hour at Tee & Cakes. Hard on the wallet. Easy on the yummm.) Maybe I spend the hours until lunch working on Demand Studios articles in the upstairs quiet zone. Maybe I meet John for lunch, if he has time. Maybe we try a downtown establishment with an interesting lunch special. Maybe we make lunch. (I bought bento boxes! I want to fill them up with Stuff!) Maybe I go to Atlas Purveyors for the afternoon stretch, working on short stories and blogging gigs if there's time.

That's a lot of maybe. The definitely is, I go to work. And I work.

It helps to leave the house to go to work; I don't end up running errands or cleaning the house or chasing the cats instead of writing. It helps even more to leave in the company of someone who's heading to work himself. Self-discipline is largely a matter of mindset, and the morning go-to-work routine changes a mindset. Also, this is my first time since 2004 working roughly in the same location as my husband; I'd forgotten how much I'd missed commuting together, going to lunch together, simply being nearby rather than at opposite ends of a highway.

Today, we got off the BX, walked to his office, stowed our luggage, and then went our separate ways: he to renew his Diet Coke supply, me to order a pot of pu erh at Atlas. I had a lot to do, so it was best to spend the day all in one place. Atlas are very hospitable to all-day work sessions, even bums like me who buy one pot of tea and re-steep it all day long.

(Atlas recently got a hilariously absurd negative review on Yelp.com. The owner blew it up, printed it out, and enshrined it on the wall-to-wall chalkboard for all to enjoy.)

It felt weird how normal everything felt today, being back in Boulder, getting back to work. I mean, last night I went to sleep somewhere in Nebraska. Yesterday morning I woke up in Chicago. I guess traveling has to bring you back home sometime, but the transition was so seamless that I barely noticed it, making Boulder feel a strange place to be.

Then I thought, "You know what's really weird? That 'normal' means calling this cafe my office for the day, watching people walk by, writing stories half the day and paid article gigs the other half. And calling somewhere else my office tomorrow."

Then things got really circular. I stopped thinking and went back to writing.

Today's fiction task: write down the zombie story I've been entertaining in my head all weekend long. If you followed the links above, you'll have found one to Tee & Cakes's short story contest (here's their original announcement). The three words that were the story prompt put me in mind of nothing so much as Popcap.com's "Plants vs. Zombies" game (though I admit playing it during any downtime with John this weekend helped). So it's a bit of a pastiche on that, and a bit of a spoof on popular expectations about the inevitable zombie apocalypse. It also incorporates something I learned about chickens a couple weeks ago at Abbondanza.

The result is now in Tee & Cakes's inbox. If it doesn't make the cut, I think I just might send it to Weird Tales.

And that's the news.