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July 25, 2012

Adventures in the Coffice

Coffee and Cake - dreamstimefree_216999

During the last few months I’ve been attempting to complete three different manuscripts. When I’m at home it’s easy to become distracted. Too easy! There’s all the housework, the Internet, my email, the puppy wanting to play and the phone, just to mention a few things likely to derail my writing day.

Since I know myself well, whenever I can, I leave the house and work in one of my favorite cafes. I’ve posted about the benefits of a coffice before (coffee shop/office), and for me writing in a cafe really works. For instance, I’ve completed the first draft of a 50K manuscript this month, writing the final words today.

But there is an interesting by-product to working in a cafe. I meet some entertaining people.

Most people are attracted by Rufus, my pink netbook. They stop to chat about the cute pink computer and want to know what it does and where they can get one.

At one particular cafe, a group of retired men and women meet after doing a twice-weekly walk. Usually, I get there before them and gradually become surrounded by their group who range in age from early 60s to 80s. They’ve started chatting to me and discovered I was a writer. I received the normal questions about research, along with a few smirks. I told one man that writers who write about murder don’t go around killing people therefore it wasn’t logical to assume I participated in all the kinky stuff he was smirking about. I heard him repeating my words verbatim to two elderly women about two weeks later. The lecture must have sunk in.

One of the elderly ladies in the group wanted to know if I’d speak at her book club. I asked what sort of books they read. “Oh, we’re very relaxed,” she said, waving an airy hand. “Each month we have a theme. This month our theme is color.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said.

“Yes, I’m reading 50 Shades of Grey,” she said. “The first bit was all right, but I’m not sure about all this bondage stuff and tying people up. How am I going to explain that to my book club?”

Yesterday, I was in my cafe around eight in the morning and was busy tapping out my words.

“Excuse me,” the man beside me said. “I’m sorry to bother you, but could you tell me a word to describe addiction.”

I must have looked a bit blank because he said, “This is my sentence.” And he read a sentence about how his gambling had overtaken him, causing him lots of problems.

“Oh,” I said, and I gave him a suggestion.

Wondering just what he was scribbling about in his notebook, I went back to my writing.

“Excuse me,” he said. “Could you spell…” He proceeded to ask me how to spell about half a dozen different words.  “Thank you,” he said politely once I’d finished.

I went back to my words.

“Excuse me,” he said.

I was starting to get the drift of what he was writing, and I was a bit nervous about what was coming next.

“I need a closing paragraph to read out to the judge. I’ve been very stupid,” he said. “I’ve done some bad things, and if this letter doesn’t work, I’ll have to go to jail.”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay, how about something like this? Your honor, I am truly sorry for my actions and have learned the error of my ways. I want to be a role model for my children. I’ve worked hard, gone to rehab and done everything required of me to turn my life around.”

He nodded, scribbled my suggestion down, adding a few words of his own. After a few minutes, he said, “Excuse me.”

I smiled politely and wondered what was coming next.

“Thank you for your help. I’m going home to shower and change now.”

“Okay, good luck,” I said.

He nodded and left. I watched him get in his car and drive away before going back to my words.

Life is never boring at the coffice!


  1. Brinda

    Shelley- The story of the elderly man perfecting his letter (with your help) is priceless. Yes, life at the coffice is not boring at all.

    • Shelley Munro

      I’m still chuckling about that one. Yesterday I sat next to a man with his elderly mother. He was trying to talk to her, but she kept saying “what?”

      Finally he shouted, “I wish you’d put in your hearing aid before we left!”

      I felt his frustration.

  2. Ciara Knight

    What a great way to help your fellow man. My last coffice incident involved a woman fighting with her insurance company one her cell phone about her husband viagra not being delivered. It was a loud and colorful conversation.

    • Shelley Munro

      LOL – now that’s one for a book!

  3. Savannah Chase

    Oh wow. You really never know who you will meet. You helping him out was so nice of you.

    • Shelley Munro

      I didn’t like to ignore him when he was so polite.

  4. Ella Gray

    What a great story, Shelley. I usually do my writing away from home at the library, but now I’ll definitely hunt for a good coffice to try out. Congratz on finishing your ms. – can’t wait to check it out :)

    • Shelley Munro

      Thanks, Ella. On to the polishing stage next.
      You really should find a cafe. I sit there for hours. It might be harder for you in US since there’s the tip situation, but I only leave if the cafe starts to get busy, and I can see they need a table – or if I need to go to the loo!

  5. Claudia McRay

    Very interesting! Would love to know how it turned out for the gentleman. Book Club discussion must have been hilarious!

    • Shelley Munro

      Hi Claudia,

      It was certainly very entertaining. I wish I could find out how the man’s story turned out too.

  6. Carol Kilgore

    I can see I need to find a coffice! I just loved this. The elderly woman wondering how to tell her bookclub about bondage is priceless! If the man comes back to tell you he didn’t go to jail, I hope you’ll pass that on to us.

    • Shelley Munro

      LOL – I’ll definitely pass it on Carol, but I hadn’t seen him before. I’ve come to know the people who are regulars. There’s one lady who sits across from me. She’s always reading a Mills & Boon romance and seems totally engrossed. I can never catch her eye :)

  7. Mary Kirkland

    That is an awesome story, Shelley. I hope things go well for him now.

    • Shelley Munro

      I hope they do too, Mary. He did tell me he’d done some very bad things though.

  8. Gerri Bowen

    I need to find a place like that, Shelley! Great post.

    • Shelley Munro

      LOL – sometimes the goings on are a bit distracting, which sort of defeats the purpose.

  9. Paula Martin

    Great story, Shelley! Think I’ll have to start visiting my ‘coffice’ more often.
    Many thanks for your comment at Heroines with Hearts today, hope you’ll also visit my personal blog http://paulamartinpotpourri.blogspot.com
    And if you’d like to be a ‘Friday Friend’ at Heroines, just let me know at paulamartinromances(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. Maria Zannini

    Entertaining is right.

    I’ve never been comfortable writing in public places. It’s too distracting. It makes it hard to hear the voices in my head. :)

  11. Christina Phillips

    I nearly choked on my apple and cream turnover at the lady who picked 50 Shades of Gray for her ‘colour’ theme! How wonderful!!!

  12. Sandra Cox

    Too funny. And great idea, writing outside the house.

  13. silver price

    The first thing I’d suggest is local cafes/restaurants/bookstores. Starbucks is too crowded for me as well, and I find local shops to be much friendlier and normally won’t mind. I ended up writing a good chunk of a novel two year ago in both a local indian-food restaurant and a local book/comics store and the owners were really excited about the concept of NaNoWriMo.If you’re near a college/university, I’d try there. There’s always a good range of places with power outlets and College People Watching is the most entertaining :)Also, bookstores are great, usually there are armchairs around or a cafe area.