Some days you’re just more open to the world around—more attuned to the melodies that play over the rhythm of your everyday routine. Why it happens, some days more than others, I don’t know. Quality of the coffee, maybe. The weather. A really good night’s sleep. Whatever the reason, it’s important to take advantage of those moments—those moments when your sense of wonder is heightened.
Every morning I write my pages. Anywhere I am—in the coffee shop, on the plane. Wherever. The other day I was at a school, doing some support, and having arrived an hour or so early, I sat down in the staffroom to do my pages. (I’m working a new short story, which I’m quite excited about, but I need to nail the ending, so I was hammering out some words and just playing around with different versions.) Anyway, about halfway down the page, three staff came in—all women—and started making coffee and chatting about their weekend. Whether or not they noticed me, sitting in the corner, I don’t know. Maybe they did, and maybe they didn’t care. Either way, they carried on their conversation, and as it turned out one of them had been to Ibiza for the weekend…
“So, how was it?”
“Oh, fantastic. No kids, just me and Chris.”
“Wow, I bet that was nice. Did you party all night long?”
“Yep. Lots of cocktails…”
“Ooh, I like Sex on the Beach…”
“Didn’t have any of those. Had a few mojitos, though.”
“Strawberry daiquiris—they’re my favourite…”
“Yep, had a couple of those.”
“Although, I went to this cocktail bar the other night in Milton Keynes called Turtle Bay, and it really put me off them, ‘cos they just didn’t know how to make ‘em properly…”
“Well, at this one place we went to they made us watermelon daiquiris.”[Cue both the other women basically having kittens.]
“Ooh, that’s a bit different…”
“Bet they were lush.”
At which point, all three now with their mugs of instant coffee in hand, drifted out of the staffroom, leaving me with a big grin on my face. Come on, I thought. That was amazing. You’ve got to get it down…
Writers are often encouraged to eavesdrop, as a means of developing their ear for dialogue. But really, who needs an excuse? Hearing a conversation like that just sets you up for a good day. Which it was: the boys in my writing group all managed to knock out a decent story (well, almost all of them… a half-decent one, anyway) and then, later, for some reason the girl at Pret gave me a free flat white and a discount on a cheese toastie!
So, there you go. Increased awareness. Watermelon daiquiris. And free coffee.
It’s all good.