Friday, August 5, 2016

Too Hot

by Linda Rodriguez

The temps were 102° today with a heat index of 110°. I spent the day as I have this entire week, working in a local Panera all day, even though I have a nice big office with spacious desk and comfortable desk chair.

Our big old house, like a lot of older homes, does not have central air conditioning, and when the temperatures outside hit the high 90s and triple digits, those poor window air conditioners just can't keep up. So I decamp for the nearest Panera. This happens every summer in Kansas City, where weeks of triple digits aren't unheard of and where humidity is incredibly high. (I once visited San Antonio during one of these times while San Antonio itself had temps of 103, but found San Antonio much more bearable because the air was so much drier.)

The manager and staff at my coffee shop know me and ask how the latest book is coming along. I also head there when I have copy edits or page proofs, in order to stay focused, so they see me at times other than just the hottest days of summer. I hear them explain to new employees--”She's a writer, and sometimes she comes here to work all day.”

The first day or two that I head out to the coffee shop, if I'm writing new work rather than dealing with copy edits or page proofs, is always slower and harder. I have a rhythm established at home where I usually work, and that rhythm gets thrown off by switching locations. I've been working away from home all miserably hot week long. The first couple of days were awkward and disappointing, but by today, I was cruising along at the laptop, fingers flying.

I'm nearing the end of a book I've finished and revised completely, only to realize that I needed at least two more chapters at the end. Those chapters are what I'm writing now, and I'm pleased to say they're coming right along after an initial loss of momentum when I had to change location of my daily work. I'm at that stage where I greet my husband when he shows up at the end of the day with excited babble. “It's going so well now!” “ Yay! 4,000 words today.” “I'm getting really excited about this as I close in on the end. I think it's turning out great!”

I've moved into that end-of-book momentum where it becomes almost impossible not to write and where my brain stays awake into the night, running through various scenarios and possible alternatives to planned scenes. This is one of my favorite times in writing a book.

So, yeah, it's miserable outside, but I'm in all day where the air is cold, the music is classical, and the coffee is hot. Sometimes you just have to move to a different space to write.


  1. good for you! I'm either typing at the kitchen counter, standing on top of the a/c vent, or sitting a foot from the vent at the kitchen table.

  2. In boiling teapot weather, we all have to improvise, Margaret, don't we?

  3. You are resourceful and inspired! The teacher's mantra is "Whatever works" and it clearly applies to writers as well. I'm glad the Panera staff is so welcoming. ;-)

  4. Isn't Panera wonderful? In "famously hot Columbia," the Panera cafes are always safe harbors for writers. I'm so glad the tradition exists across the country!

  5. Linda, you always tell a good story whatever you write about. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Reine. I hope you're feeling better finally.

  6. I go to eat at Panera a lot, but never thought about writing there. My window air conditioner is right by my desk, so it's comfortable to be here.