I sit in at a table in the coffee shop, reach into my bag and pull out a couple of soft notebooks, a blue pen, a red pen and paper copies of projects to edit. I lay out my materials, meticulously placing them in strategic places where I can work comfortably and keep them out of range from a potential spill from my coffee. I take my first sip and gaze around the shop. Beyond the constant whir of coffee grinders and espresso machines, I hear a light tapping. I look around, trying to find the source of the faint rhythmic clicking; to my left is a young man typing on a tiny laptop; to my right, an older gentleman flicking his fingertips on his Blackberry; across from me, a young woman sliding her hands over a tablet. I look down at the table in front of me, strewn with notebooks, pens and loose papers, and wonder if my method is considered a bit outdated for the world of today.
I prefer to create my first words and thoughts in a notebook. I like to feel my hand swooping across the page, watching the ink smear across the side of my left pinky, admiring the swirling loops of my letters, and trying to translate the indecipherable scrawl that develops when my brain pumps out the words faster than my hand can write. Yes, I’m sure typing would be quicker and less messy, and sometimes, even I must choose the keyboard if a deadline is looming; but I am drawn to the look, touch and smell of paper. It takes me back to a simple time, when imagination was fueled by the whisper of a child, the dramatic color of a freshly painted wall or the tapping of high heels hitting the pavement; when stories erupted from authentic moments, and unknown voices divulged secret sentences that could be transformed into a major plotline.
And so I sit, and write, knowing that I can indulge in a couple of hours of down-to-earth delight before I return home, where my stories must finally surrender to the keyboard that will edit them and the hard drive that will preserve them.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.