Is This the End of Writing in Cafés? – by Emily Temple…

on LitHub:

Full disclosure: I may not be the right person to answer the question posed in this headline. After all, I wrote my first novel almost entirely from bed. In fact, I am writing this essay from bed now. Like Edith Wharton, Colette, and Proust, I am more creative when reclined, and when comfortable, and when alone. This is only to say, I don’t write in public spaces. Public spaces are the opposite of my bed.

But plenty of writers swear by them. The café, in particular, has long been a popular place to write; so popular that it has acquired a thick air of nostalgia and romance that threatens to obscure its actual value. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir famously used Paris’s Café de Flore as their home office; as Sartre explained, “We settled there: from nine o’clock in the morning to noon, we worked there, we went to lunch, at two o’clock we came back and we talked with friends that we met until eight o’clock. We received the people we had arranged to meet, it may seem strange, but we were at Flore at home.”

Ah, the romance! The intrigue! The promise that you won’t actually have to write all day because your friends will stop by! It’s largely due to the legacy of these Parisian literary cafés that writing the Next Great Whatever novel while you sip espresso in your local is so much a part of the fantasy of Being a Writer

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9 thoughts on “Is This the End of Writing in Cafés? – by Emily Temple…

  1. Pingback: The outdoor auteur
  2. What a great article, Emily!

    I’m one of the café literary crowd, and I got into the habit in Paris. When I lived there, I used to go to my local café in Montmartre, nurse my demi of Amstel and pound my brains for a couple-three hours.

    What I discovered in Paris is that the external ambience of a café is both a stimulating inspiration and barrier to concentration that really focuses you—if you’re really a writer and not just being, as you say, ‘performative’.

    It was more than a preference—or even a habit—with me, but simply a matter of practicality, having nowhere else to go, and when I came back to Australia, I kept it up. I travel a lot, so I have an ‘office’, a café I regularly go to where the vibe as well as the java is just right, in every town or city I visit.

    Here in Melbourne, we are suffering through the longest lockdown in the world, and I do miss going to my two cafés, the 3 Little Monkeys in Centre place, where I do my morning stint, and The Quarter in Degraves street, where I do my evening stint.

    Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful article. It’s good to read how other people are coping with the loss of their ‘offices’.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. To each their own. I would find working in a cafe terribly distracting. I agree with Chris—the best things about being in a cafe are eating, chatting with friends, and watching people.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing this well-written and interesting post, Chris. Whilst I am a fan of restaurants and pubs, I look on them as places to enjoy a drink in the company of friends and, (in the latter case) a meal with good company. I dont like disturbance while writing, hence I prefer to write in my spare room at home, rather than in a public place. So far as risks go, I did (before it became mandatory to do so) wear masks in shops. However I wish to continue to enjoy life so have no intention of abandoning my pub going and eating out habits. For me there is living and there is merely existing. I wish to live rather than to merely exist, hence continuing to prop up the pub trade! However all writers (as with other people) must weigh up the risks for themselves. Cheers, Kevin

    Liked by 1 person


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