From Esquire’s 1,000 Words about our Culture, by Stephen Marche; A great read about the current status of printed media, novels and writers in general.
“Writers have always been whiners. For nearly a hundred years, since at least the time of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the death of the novel has been presaged. And now, egged on by BuzzFeed and video games and just general hypercaffeinated, e-mail-all-the-time ADHD, the book is apparently, finally, about to die. At least we’ll have good stuff to read while we wait. This fall alone, the number of big books published by major writers is astounding: Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, Junot Díaz, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, and about a half dozen others. Not that the list has stopped anyone from complaining. Literary circles have been so full of pity for so long that they can’t accept the optimistic truth: We’re living in a golden age for writers and writing.”
My next journey for inspiring writing places tales me to It’s A Grind Coffee House in Long Beach, CA. For all of my writing sessions, I am using a Microsoft Surface RT with Touch cover and Office 2013.
With a mostly comfortable plastic chair underneath me and an adequate sized wire mesh table, the outdoor patio is a very relaxing and inspiring place to get writing done. I was able to get a perfect table overlooking the lone plantlike tree thing which blocks out the view of the parking lot. Here in an urban setting this is the best I’m going to get unless I go down to a park.
There is also a lot of opportunity to get lost in one’s work at this location. Most of the time the other patrons of this establishment either have their iPods going or are furiously typing away on a laptop. It is an almost library-like setting without the smell of stale books. As I spend more time at this location I have a feeling people will come to recognize me, as a few regulars came by while I was writing and were enthusiastically greeted by the staff and a few patrons. This sense of community is definitely a plus of living in the walking, biking and artist friendly Bixby Knolls section of Long Beach.
Listening to the chirps of birds from the, uh, plant and the slight chatter of people enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend or partner really help make this spot the best I have written at so far. It is quiet, I can get in the correct mindset, and on cold days there is ample seating inside the coffee shop with undisturbed quiet corners. I look forward to returning to this location and I urge all of my fellow writers to get out and find the place that is right for you.
My next stop in a journey to find a comfortable, inspiring writing place lands me on the outdoor patio of a Jamba Juice. For all of my “tests” I write on a Microsoft Surface RT with Touch Cover keyboard and Word 2013. The view isn’t terrible, and the little flowers are nice to look at now and again when searching for a word. The chairs and table are black wire mesh and extremely uncomfortable, making this writing a trip shorter than I had imagined. The traffic noise along the busy avenue create a nice little hum that can help keep with rhythm, or be totally distracting, depending on how one looks at it. There is always the fun activity of people watching, which at this location is plentiful, as I can see inside the store and try to guess which drink people ordered, or I can watch people driving by in their cars.
Actual writing time at this location has mostly positive results, as the distractions are mostly background noise. I was able to get a good dialogue flow going between several characters and not stop once in the middle of the conversation to determine where it was going. The words were able to flow freely and quickly, especially using the traffic noise as a rhythm marker. If Jamba Juice could work on the quality of their patio seating, I would be inclined to come back, stay longer, and even order a second drink. This one is out. *slurp*
I’ve been spending the last month going around to different locations to find inspiration for characters and stories. This is my first post in the series.
The first location I stumbled upon for inspiration is the food court at Westminster Mall in Westminster, CA. The food court is one of those places that is always busy and full of interesting people. This particular food court has a lot of different table settings, making it easy to get many different views of the area. My favorite, the counter seating, which allows for a high vantage point, and I don’t look odd sitting by myself.
Sitting in a food court, one overhears many conversations, some intriguing, others bland. There is never a lack of good story content coming from those around you.
Televisions blare out whatever advertisement the mall has paid for, which can be a little distracting, but also easily filtered out.
There are a large variety of people walking around the food court, representing every piece of the American melting pot, a perfect opportunity to create interesting and lifelike characters.
The Westminster Mall food court provides a classic American Mall vibe circa the 1980s and 90s, which provides a very rare energy that is strangely nostalgic and inspiring at the same time.
Overall, writing in a mall food court is a little distracting (and hunger inducing), but a great opportunity to create some very interesting characters and storylines.
The other day whilst sitting in a mall, a familiarly fleeting feeling washed over me. Gazing upon the plastic Christmas wreaths and blurred jeans a small jolt of inspiration sprang forth. Why in this exact moment? Maybe it was a small burst o’ Christmas cheer, or maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t sat down for several hours. But more likely it was the brief realization that I need a place of inspiration in which to write. Just in that short time on the bench I had several ideas run through my mind, mostly due to people watching. Inspiration is all around us and in all things. Although, I find the human race the most entertaining of all options.
Since that moment, I have decided to go on the hunt for my perfect writing spot. Some people find solace in Starbucks or Panera bread. Others in McDonalds or a tiny bookstore café. Apparently mine starts with plastic wreaths and people. I will continue to update my journey for my perfect writing place here on my blog, with photos, sights, smells, sounds, etc.
I encourage everyone to find their place of inspiration, not just for writing, but for whatever it is that you love to do. If you love to read, get out of your comfy chair and spend a day reading at a bookstore. If your passion is shopping, try going to a different city and experiencing new stores. You get the idea.
Inspire others! Post your inspiration in the comments below!
As a writer, it is very important to always have easy access to all of the stories one is working on, especially on the go. That is why I would like to take the time to review what I believe is the perfect on the go device, the Microsoft Surface.
What is Surface? Surface is a tablet computer released by Microsoft, running Windows RT. Think of Windows RT like it is an iPad. Apple has the OSX operating system on their Macs and iOS for its mobile devices and tablets. Windows RT is a stripped down version of Windows 8.
Why choose Surface? As I mentioned before, it is extremely important to have access to all of my stories I am working on, as inspiration may hit at any moment. The Surface tablet has built in Wi-Fi and cloud storage, so all of my documents are always available. And when I update Eliza, the Witch on my Surface, it saves automatically to the cloud, so if I go home and want to continue working on the story on my desktop PC, the story is there waiting for me right where I left off.
There is another reason the Surface is a great writer’s companion: it comes with Office preinstalled for free. That is something that no other tablet can offer at this time.
Not only will you have access to 6GB of free cloud storage with Skydrive so you can work on your documents and have them sync seamlessly between your PCs, there is also a USB port and MicroSD slot on the Surface. Let’s say you are out at a conference somewhere and there doesn’t happen to be Wi-Fi. All you have to do is carry your documents with you on a USB Memory Stick, external hard drive, or MicroSD card and you are ready to go. Again, another feature the iPad does not have.
Of course, the hardest part about tablet computing is always the typing. Portable keyboards are rarely that as they take up a lot of space and usually run out of batteries fairly quickly. The Surface has a solution for you, and it is nothing short of amazing. The Touch Cover for Surface is not only a smart cover for your screen, it also acts as a built in portable keyboard that is only a few millimeters thick. The keys are slightly raised and feel like felt and typing is as easy as tapping your fingers on a table. I had a few hours to play around with one and after about 10 minutes I was typing just as quickly as with a standard keyboard. On the plus side , you don’t even have to buy a stand for your tablet. The Surface has a built n kickstand that keeps the tablet at the perfect viewing angle.
With all of these great features, the Surface tablet from Microsoft is a must on any writer’s list this Holiday season. The clincher is definitely the free Office (although the USB port is extremely useful).
There really is no better tablet out there for a portable writing experience.
Microsoft Surface tablet is available for $499 at a Microsoft Store near you, or available online at Surface.com. Touch Cover is $119.