I’m sitting at a small table in Barnes and Noble, a cup of harvest grain soup and notebook at my disposal, wondering why I hadn’t thought of this earlier.  What started out as a lack of lunch plans quickly developed into a great discovery:  I could have a nice lunch date with my notebook and actually accomplish some writing in peace.


A couple years ago, I was on a mission to devour a tasty bowl of soup.  Just me and my notebook.  I slid into a booth at the local Denny’s and ordered a bowl of their affordable but equally scrumptious chicken noodle soup.  Then I proceeded to pull out my notebook and a pen.

After hardly scribbling two lines, a younger gentleman appears at my table.  One that was not my waiter.

“You can’t be from Alaska.”  He eyed my notebook.  “You look too smart for that.”

Okay, I’m a Nebraskan by birth and at heart.  Always will be.  But I’ve been in Alaska for a decade, so I found his cheesy pickup line offensive.  I just wanted a bowl of soup and some peace and quiet to write somewhere other than my dark, cramped apartment.  I didn’t order a side of insult.

Today, I decided lunch would be well spent in a bookstore.  I know it sounds cliché for a writer to gravitate to a bookstore to find her happy place.  But since the Denny’s incident, I had forgotten there really are places where people not only respect your space when your head is in a notebook, hand scribbling furiously, but they also expect it.

I’m not a big fan of a crowded bookstore on the weekends, but lunch during the week guarantees you an empty table and serene atmosphere.  From the moment you walk into the store, you’re greeted by the aroma of books, and wall posters of all the greats—Margaret Mitchell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce just to name to few. It’s like being surrounded by a backup muse.  And people leave you alone so you can channel that muse.  Lunch breaks are short, so it’s important to absorb all you can without interruption.

I don’t quite remember what I said to man at the Denny’s, but I’m sure I was polite about telling him to take a hike.  On the inside, I was telling him to go to hell.  Both for the insult and the interruption.  Can’t a writer go to Denny’s and just be left alone?  Hint, there’s a notebook and a pen racing along at the speed of overrunning ideas.

The moral of the story is, a weekly bookstore visit during my lunch hour might actually save my sanity.  I can enjoy a tasty bowl of soup (I strongly recommend the harvest grain; it was amazing!) and actually accomplish some writing in peace.  At a bookstore, people don’t look at writers funny or like they plan to hit on them.  It’s refreshing.