Dan Kukwa’s happy. He wrote more two weekends ago than he’d done since last September. Erin and I dragged him down to a coffee shop in Bronte (a former village within the Town of Oakville) with the expressed purpose of just sitting and writing. This place in Oakville is on the south side of Lakeshore Boulevard, just a couple of blocks from Lake Ontario. It’s an excellent establishment with nice decor and wide tables, and they don’t mind if you sit and sip coffee for hours on end. If you get tired of that, you can walk down to the Lake and stroll through a park and marina. The neighbourhood is also very nice — an established small town with modern elements that isn’t blatantly suburbia.
It sounds silly on the surface, but when you write, you often have to go out of the house. There are too many distractions at home, and the surroundings are too familiar. Go out in public, where the scenery changes every second, and your mind is sufficiently stimulated. Also, there is something to be said about making an event out of writing. By driving 45 minutes to 1 hour to this coffee shop, Erin and I have brought pressure to bear on ourselves to make something of this trip.
When J. Keeping and I co-authored In Tua Nua, we did it by visiting two coffee shops, one in each of our cities. Sadly, the Guelph establishment (J’s city at the time) called The Bookshelf is no longer conducive to writing. Although it has a wonderful bookstore attached to its eating area, that eating area is now an expensive restaurant. They’d look at you funny if all you ordered was a pot of tea. With the Bookshelf vanished the only writer’s friendly coffee place in Guelph. Second Cups in Southern Ontario serve wonderful coffee, but all of the locations we’ve been in have small round tables that prevent you from spreading out your papers while you sit and write.
So, here’s to coffee shops with large tables and semi-quiet surroundings that don’t mind if you sit for hours over a mochaccino. And, my first (and, so far, only) advice to aspiring writers: get out of your homes and get down to the coffee shops if you hope to write.
Oh, and leave a good tip at the end, so you can encourage these shops to stay in business.