Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Utter Failure at the Novel Cafe

So here I am, tropical iced tea in hand, at a darling little french cafe- The Panini in Venice Beach, California. I have moved my base of operation here after my absolute disaster at the Novel Cafe down the street yesterday.

Here's what happened (not that I really want to relive it but maybe I'll feel better afterwards -- at least that is my big hope)

First of all let me back up a bit. One of the reasons that I moved to this neighborhood was for the creative stimulation. Venice Beach is a place like no other...think-- being dressed up in pajamas with a Mohawk while wearing leopard skin stilettos, smoking a fat doobie, walking down the street with a drum and screaming to yourself while no one sees anything out of the ordinary . Nothing whatsoever is unacceptable here, whoever-whatever you are... you are welcome.

Think-- cosmopolitan. At any given time you will hear snippets of passionate conversations in Greek, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, Yiddish, French, Hindi oh and throw in some Cockney English..and yes plenty of good 'ole American sounds too. This is the home of artists, writers, filmmakers, spoken word performers, drummers and dreamers, dancers, jugglers and wandering sadhus all living, working, performing together in what has to be one of the most eclectic, bohemian, avante guarde beach communities anywhere.

And the cafes! At last count there were sixteen of them all within walking distance of my new home. A writers paradise indeed.

So of course when I moved here, I had visions of doing my writing no longer trapped in the confines of my stir -crazy making four walls, but in a groovy cafe with all the stimulation that good cafe writing offers...

That said, I began a search to find Patrice's perfect cafe. Each one, you know, having their own flavor, scene ( kind of peeps I will be chit chatting with over a latte when taking a break), level of comfort ( stiff benches vs. floppy couches) genre of music being played , temperature control and ease of plopping down to write. There was free wireless, paid wireless, minimum orders and maximum stays. Plus truth be told, the closer to my house the better for my lazy ass way of thinking ( one block is sure better than three).

The fact is that it took me six months to actually leave the comfort of home to venture out, lap top in tow for my new writing adventure. Don't ask me why, I seem to have issues, okay?

After one try I gave up on Starbucks-- really chilly and way too generic, and so yesterday I headed to the creme de la creme of cafes--The most eclectic cafe in the most eclectic neighborhood in perhaps the world-- The Novel Cafe. A famous writing hole for all manner of writers and for many a year now. More than a few novels have indeed been penned at the Novel Cafe. Open from 7 in the morning till 1am the next morning, every day of the week, 24/7.

I was giddy with the eager visions of a fantastic blog being debuted from the "Novel". I had finally arrived.

And arrive I did, at 3pm, ready for a good couple of hour writing immersion in my much anticipated funky old wood and used book decorated cafe of all cafes-- The Novel.

However, as always, the Universe has ways of humbling us and showing us what It thinks of our "plans." Things went very wrong from the get- go, in fact, the minute I walked in the door.

Reeking of Novel newbieness, I realized almost every table was taken with the other creatives. First lesson-- you have to come early to scope out your spot at the Novel. I've heard that many writers consider this their office and quite literally eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in between creating, studying, researching, reading whatever project they are working on, here.

Finally, I found a small table in what I will now always refer to as the sauna room. Upstairs from the kitchen , swelteringly hot and without a doubt not the room of choice in the Novel's four different rooms. None of the regulars would be caught dead up here. But heck, it had taken me 6 months to drag my butt here, I certainly wasn't going to leave without knocking out some damn good writing come hell or high water so I sat myself right on down to begin.

Now came the power chord issue- mine didn't reach and a lovely boy half my age came to my rescue and lent me his extension. He and I became fast friends in the sauna, the way people trapped in a lifeboat become friends, every so often commiserating about the heat and the now nauseating stench of bacon grease rising from the kitchen below. I don't care how tasty a BLT can be, trust me when I tell you that burned bacon infused steam swirling around you does not a very pleasant writing experience make!

But being the perfect little suffering in the name of art blogger that I am, I persevered. I persevered despite, really bad Reggae blasting, and the annoyance of continuing each hour to have to re-enter all of my credit card billing information into the computer to keep the $2.99 an hour wireless gods happy. At least from the sauna I did have a nice view of the interesting cast of characters coming in and ordering their beverages of choice and apparently a few BLT's.

So there I was blogging happily along and feeling quite smug and contented that I had finally gotten my Novel feet wet so to speak, when... It happened.

Don't ask me how, because I have no clue. What I do know is that to my horror, after writing what I quite frankly think was one of my funniest blogs ever, I tried to save it and .....Nothing! I got a blank white posting area. My blog and soon after my happy little writing serenity was GONE.

I felt sick, and the bacon heat ( which by the way, I had to shower, shampoo and launder away) only added to my misery.

I was indeed a Novel Cafe Failure.

It didn't help that my attempted bid for sympathy later from my non artist husband Mark, was met with the kind of look and statement that only one who just so does not understand can possibly give, " It's not like it's the end of the world or anything!"

God I have never wanted a divorce more-- actually, that's not exactly true-- that very thought often flows through me-- I think that allowing myself to go there is what makes marriage even possible for me!

 So, I gave "young boy"back his chord, never letting on any of my trial and tribulation( way too embarrassed) and walked the two blocks home, hanging head in some kind of Whoa what was the message in that! shame.

I may try again at the Novel, but not for a while. I need time to get over my sheer disappointment after such a build up. In the meantime, Panini has served me today quite well.

Then again, I haven't pushed SAVE yet...

Wish me luck.

If you are reading this--all went well.

 And so, until next time my sweet ones,

Just Love!



Randa said...

Aw, that does suck. It's always like that, though. You go to what is supposed THE place and it's the WORSE place. I know it's happened to me.

Hopefully this new place will be more creative and not as bad-luck drawing as the other.

Good luck!

Brian said...

Sounds like you had an interesting time of it.

I sent you an e-mail this weekend. Did you get it?


Julieanne Paige said...

Hi Patrice

I haven't ventured out to do the cafe writing thing but I do think about it.

The problem here is that I haven't found a nicy cosy hole and when the temperature is a top of 5 degrees for the day it will take a bit to make me want to leave my nice warm desk.

I am in Agatha Christie country though and do find myself inspired by the scenery and wondering if her stories were based on a place at the end of my street overlooking the bay. But again... 5 degrees.

My kingdom for a sauna like cafe :)

Speak soon


PS Have added you to my link list :)

Indigo said...

Aww now I understand the persistence I have to writing in my own little corner here at home (That and the fact I haven't gotten around to a laptop yet). Still I keep my little space distraction free from clutter, designed to my needs and all me. I'm surrounded by an assortment of candles for mood lighting, doesn't get any better than that. Except those occasions I really need to do something else besides write away.

The cafe experience has been one of little cliches that bar none to even try to fit in. Some are welcoming, some not. I hope you find the more welcoming experience for yourself dear friend. (Hugs)Indigo

Michael said...

Interesting, I see the writer in you. Artists routinely follow the beat of a different drummer. i found your blog through the 2012 survive or something site. i live in Houston, Texas inside the Texas Medical Center. It's not serenity central, and coffee shops are here to get caffine so that you can pull another all-nighter in the lab. Anyway, I ammassing survival gear, food, and weapons for the impending collapse of civilization.

rgl said...

Hi Patrice, I am enjoying reading your blogs. And yes, I am one of those who have found inspiriation at times writing in caf├ęs. And as often as not, nothing worth saving. At least at those times I have enjoyed good coffee and have watched and listened to all kinds of interesting, off-beat ideas from new agers to yuppies.

Michael said...

I've tried to work on my own novel (aspiring to be the new teenage literary phenomenon - my years are numbered!) in cafes, particularly Starbucks. I get distracted too easily.

I am so jealous of the fact that you live in California. Your paragraph about the cosmopolitan beach-side neighborhood made my heart ache and yearn. One of these days, I'll venture there and live there for a while. Perhaps I can add Chinese to the list of languages.

It's a shame that your work got erased. I bet it would've been a good read.

I hope you're good.


online casino reviews said...

I also enjoyed reading your entries. Love the twists and turns of being a writer.

patrice karst said...

Thanks for all your comments guys.

It is because of you that my blogs take life--

I wish I could hug you all.


shloke said...

Greetings Patrice!

Thank you for leaving a comment on my photo blog.

Best wishes to you!