I am a creature of habit.
I type those words on the laptop computer I always use to write, sitting in my preferred seat, at my preferred high-top table, in a coffee shop I’m at so much the barista starts making my drink as soon as he sees my car pull into the parking lot. Some might consider this boring and, while I agree life is about experience, there is also something to be said for comfort.
I know exactly what I’m going to get when I head to the Serious Coffee by Mayfair Mall in Victoria, B.C. to transfer the words from my head onto my computer. The mocha will taste right, the music will be at an acceptable level, many of the people will be familiar (apparently I’m not the only creature of habit), there’s a good chance a small bird will find its way in to snatch crumbs from the floor, and most importantly, there are plenty of power outlets. That’s what got me coming here in the first place: there are no fewer than 8 places to sit with readily available power supply. The same can not be said of all coffee shops, I’m sorry to report, and it is every writer’s nightmare to find themselves in the middle of an inspired scene, one for which they’ll be remembered for the rest of their writing career, and the laptop battery dies taking inspiration with it.
I’ve tried writing in other environments: at home, the library, the park, but I always end up back at coffee shop. At home, I find there’s too much going on to distract me. There’s more hustle and bustle in a coffee shop (well, most of them), but none of it directly involves me, so I can use it as the occasional distraction I like (feeding the bird, appreciating a beautiful woman, eavesdropping on conversations like a good writer) without feeling compelled to be directly involved. Places like libraries and parks tend to be the opposite–not enough distraction. Writing is a lonely, solitary business, but that doesn’t mean I want to be alone when I’m doing it. Ultimately, it’s the comfort of this sameness that allows me the freedom to be creative.
My habits go further, though. It’s not just places, but the time, too. Much to my chagrin, I have become a morning writer. Through the necessities of everyday life, writing before work has turned out to offer me the best time to write, and now my brain has trained itself to be ready to go starting at about 6am. This is a pain in the ass in several ways, most notably in that I never get a chance to satisfactorily sleep in. I’m either up to write, or my brain thinks I should be up to write. Goddamn brain, it’s like it has a mind of its own.
So there you have me: Bruce Blake–author, father, trophy husband to a burlesque diva, working-man, and creature of habit. On the bright side, at least you know where to find me. If you’re ever in Victoria between 6 and 10 am, drop by the Serious Coffee on Cloverdale Avenue, say hi to Travis behind the counter, and come have a chat. I’ll buy you a mocha.