Happy Sunday everyone (our first in May!). Today, I’m inviting fellow Elementary Writer Emma Whitehall to the blog, telling us why she (and every writer) needs a good café. I entirely endorse this! Over to you, Emma.
Every writer, I think, should have a good café.
I simply can’t write when I’m at home. I can read at home – most of my slush pile is completed in bed – but, when it comes to finishing an article, or plotting a story, I will literally do anything else before I work. I’ll binge on Netflix, do the laundry, and bathe the gecko before a single word hits the page. That’s why so much of my time is taken up in cafes, or coffee shops. Every important email, every significant story, has been written at least in part while sitting in a public space.
As I write, I am sitting in Quilliam Brother’s Teahouse in Newcastle City Centre. It’s a gorgeous old red-brick building right in the heart of the city, revamped by the titular brothers (yes, Quilliam really is their last name) a few years ago. It’s all wood furnishings and quirky decorations (the chandelier is made of tea spoons!) and I love it. I’m on my second Strawberry Iced Tea, and my dessert of a caramel brownie after a really hearty mushroom burger – setting me up for a dull evening shift at my Day Job. I have a long history with this teahouse; I actually worked with one of the owners in the months just before it opened. I had first date with my partner downstairs – terrifying him when he was presented with a menu with over 50 different types of tea. I wrote most of my upcoming collection at Vic Watson’s writing group, which is held here every Monday night, and made some amazing friends in the process.
There’s something about writing in public that really sparks my motivation. Maybe it’s the “performance” of writing – living up to the stereotype of the hipster writer, tapping away at her laptop with a fancy drink for company. Maybe it’s the idea of this being “my time” to write, without thinking too hard about work, or commuting, or the thousand tiny distractions that are always there at home. It could be the white noise around me that helps my brain focus – I’m one of those rare writers who can’t stand to have music playing while I work. Maybe it’s just the way my brain is programmed now, to associate sitting at a table with a hot drink and something sugary to be Writing Time. Whatever it is, I know I’m not the only writer in Newcastle to be thankful to all the staff at Quilliam Brothers for their patience (I’ve been here for nearly three hours), their delicious food and drink, and for providing a space where we can come and think, and create.
Emma Whitehall is a writer and spoken word performer based in the North East of England. She specialises in supernatural fiction, and has been published in the United Kingdom, America and Mexico. Her Flash Fiction has been longlisted for the Bath Novella in Flash Award, and shortlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Award. She also writes book reviews for genre publications such as Unnerving Magazine, and her guest blog posts have been praised as “invaluable advice” by their readers.