In the past couple of weeks, a wee group of us have been trotting down to the local and setting up laptops for a writing session.
The boozer has comfortable booths that offer some seclusion from the hurly burly, such as it is on a weekday afternoon — the occasional zombie stumbling in from the pokies room, that blinking expression that suggests, Has anyone seen my life?; tradies catching a quick liquid lunch; suits huddled over their meal. So not too distracting. The pub also has a really neat ceiling of timber trusses and panelling, a bit like a cathedral, so it rewards that desperate heaven-wards stare for inspiration. And the staff don’t mind us hanging out there, occasionally feeding off their power and keeping the coffee machine burbling away.
Usually we’ll have a chat over lunch (the pub’s got a pretty keen menu) and a glass or two of red, and then it’s down to it. Though the last time, we got down to it first, and then finished off with dinner, because it was parma night. Regardless of the schedule, this is the beauty of the pub session. Our needs are catered for, no one has to wash up, and the loos are clean. And most importantly, there are no domestic distractions: no wifi to tempt a quick google check or email perusal, no sudden urge to go hang out washing or feed the cat; no, ahem, blog post to write instead. No escape from the blinking cursor and the blank page waiting for ideas to fill it. It’s the equivalent of walking up to a brick wall of creativity and bashing your head against it.
We are each other’s dictionary, thesaurus, sounding board. Sympathetic ear (‘yeah, it’s annoying when characters go bad’; whip (‘just right the damn thing!’).
It’s interesting that the three of us who meet regularly are all at different stages of our manuscript: one is editing those final scenes (yay!), another is pushing on past the first one-third mark, and me, I’m still trying to work out what the hell this story is about. Yup, actually doing some planning, trying to work both forward from the start that I’ve got on the page and backwards from the ending I’ve got in my mind.
And the pub session seems to be doing the trick for all of us. Especially now that we’ve figured out the line between greasing the machine and bogging it — somewhere between two and three glasses!
Ellen, one of my cohorts, shares her thoughts about the pub outings here.