Where I Wrote: The Dancing Crane Cafe at the Bronx Zoo.
How I Feel About What I Wrote: Awesome. After the last few days of struggle, I feel amazing about putting out new words–genuine progress.
The Mood I Brought to the Table: Fine. Ultimately. Woke up unsure if I actually wanted to go out today, but by the time I got to my spot, I was fine.
The Experience: If I had to characterize my mind, I’d give it a cup of coffee. Not a mug–a disposable, paper cup. With a “java sleeve.” My mind would always hold this cup of coffee and take comically long, loud sips from it after saying douchey things–that way you know he’s definitely a douche.
“Sure you wanna get up today?” my brain asked as I rolled over and checked the time. And then, “slurrrrp.”
“So you think you got out of that writing loop you were stuck in? You’re probably right… slurrrrp,” as I walked to the Bronx Zoo.
The douchebaggery stopped for a while when I got to the zoo, another place where I used to work–although, unlike the Time Warner Center, I worked at the Bronx Zoo so long ago–and enjoyed it so much both before and after working there–that old experiences never skew my love of it.
At worst, I’m guilty of making it too familiar in my mind and then being surprised when I visit again and get a reminder of its beauty and size. Particularly today though, I was surprised to rediscover a bunch of potential writing spots inside of it. Much like the Botanical Gardens’, those spots–mostly outdoor benches–are unusable for the winter, but there are still benches to be had in the zoo’s exhibits.
Tiger Mountain’s Pavilion B, for example, has benches tucked far enough out of the wind that it’s oddly hospitable even on a cold day like today. The Zoo Center is (thankfully) an exhibit again and features a bench people probably don’t use. Another location that I’m actually going to selfishly withhold, is particularly amazing and secluded.
But the most accessible and writer friendly location is the Dancing Crane Cafe, where I, in all-business mode, went first, determined to have a solid writing session before going into distracted photographer mode. I got there quickly, bought a coffee and a pretzel, sat down, and…
“Oh hey. Seems you forgot to save a copy of your work from last night to your tablet. Didn’t you remind yourself to do that? I remember you reminding yourself to do that… *slurp*.”
Do I just… walk around the zoo now? Do I rush home and write there? Do I go home, write a post about how I failed and just… wait til tomorrow? Also, is, perhaps, a table flip in order?
“You could just <sigh> write or something… *slurp* I mean, do you need that file?”
I… didn’t. I knew that yesterday’s fix was fine. The only question was whether a decision I made in my last 400 words was a good idea or a bad one. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t write–I could just create a new file here. I knew what scene came next and how to start it. I just had to employ safety strats; that last-400-word-decision was a simple change that has a huge tonal impact on the story but a super tiny, easy to alter footprint, so I could just write the safer version of the next scene and decide later if I should switch it to the unsafe version.
What all of this equated to was a super liberating, “Fuck it.” I sat there and made actual progress and enjoyed writing Memory for the first time in a few days. And, when I reached the end of my session and the transition for the tomorrow’s session came effortlessly, I was ecstatic.
With an hour to spare. I walked around the zoo, checking out largely empty exhibits and brainstorming. Being genuinely crazy-person-weird by saying dialogue aloud when I thought I was alone (I wasn’t alone).
And, somehow, that was it. After struggling for the past few days, with the same scene, I was expecting the hammer to drop–to get home and find that the scene was a total disaster somehow. Or, failing that, to find that my computer–and only my computer–had burst into flames while I was gone. But that never happened–I reread the scene and it was fine. I considered last night’s addition and decided in favor of the unsafe version (because, of course–why the hell would I ever go safe?).
And that was that. Today’s disaster was weak sauce, easily–almost abscent-mindedly avoided. A bullet effortlessly dodged. Writing done. Victory had.