A Trip to the Library


I’ve been looking for a change of scenery for writing.

I considered a few of the coffee shops in the area, but I can see an additional ten pounds in my future if I go that route, because, you know, they sell treats to go along with their highly sugared cold coffee drinks, and sometimes, resistance is futile.

Rich and I recently went to our county library to check it out. I thought it would be a good place to take my laptop and write for a few hours several times a week. There is a large room with a half dozen tables, a sofa, and two chairs. The magazines and newspapers are in this room. There are loads of windows, and the room is bright. It seemed perfect.

The following Monday, I packed up my things, and off to the library I went.

I arrived at 11:00. I dropped some notes to myself throughout my work. I thought I’d log some thoughts of my first day at the library. Here’s the first note:

Forgot the damn book.

Forgive my French. I was all set up and ready to write only to realize I forgot to grab the most current version of my book from my laptop upstairs and transfer it to my traveling laptop downstairs. I was soooo frustrated. I picked a future scene out of my mind and began writing.

Here’s the next note to myself:

11:30 – yawning, looking at clock, wondering if I can go home yet. Feel lost without book to look back on. 223 words so far – that’s 446 per hour  – 2 ½ hours to get to 1,000 words. That’s crap. Could use some M&M’s, but there’s no food allowed in library. Chair is really hard and cuts into the back of my legs.

Whine, whine, whine. And, for the record, it’s been FOR.EV.ER since I’ve grazed on M&M’s while writing.

I had my iPad with me. Fifteen minutes later, I sent this message to Rich:

45 minutes and I’m already ready to come home. I forgot to bring my current book with me. I’m struggling to remember where I left off and what to write next. Washed the car on the way down here – ha! – the trunk lid wasn’t latched. You thought it was wet in there before. And I forgot my mouse! I hate using this pad thingy. If there’s any good news, it’s that I have almost 500 words done so far. I’m making progress.

He ignores me. Several minutes later, I send this message to him:

If you whine in the forest and there’s no one to hear, is it audible?

Still no response. I buckle down and do some writing. At 12:30, this message goes his way:

1,131 words. I’m leaving at 1:00. I have to stop at the store and pick up a few things on the way home.

He still ignores me. I continue writing … and I’m on a roll.

Final note to myself:

1,857 words. The end of first day writing and two hours in the library.

Not great, but not bad. The drawbacks to writing at this library were that every time I coughed, it sounded three times as loud because of the echo effect. My clacking keyboard keys weren’t that loud, but they sure sounded loud in that room. And, I was surprised by how many people talked loudly on cell phones or just talked loudly to each other in the room. Using earbuds to listen to music on my iPad helped but didn’t quite drown everyone out. Even the library workers made a lot of noise using a microfiche machine.

I’m going to try a different library. There’s a library closer to us that isn’t quite as large. I won’t have to deal with an echo, and I think the workers are stricter when it comes to talking.

Do you have a favorite place to write? Have you tried writing outside your home? I’d love some new ideas.

Oh! And Rich wasn’t ignoring me. He was visiting with his brother-in-law and left his phone in the den. I guess my whining wasn’t audible after all.

41 thoughts on “A Trip to the Library

  1. Whenever we travel (and especially on the few cruises we’ve had) I always start out with the idea that it will be a perfect opportunity to get some writing done since, you know, away from home means no chores and no distractions . . .

    . . . but, the reality has consistently been different. I get little to no writing done.

    For me, the best place to write is in front of the computer, coffee or tea at hand, snacks nearby (when needed), and the ability to get up and look at something interesting while I’m mulling over a particular direction (meaning, look at the yard, the birds, or even take a break and process some photos).

    Pretty much, I need music in my ears. I can occasionally work best in complete silence but then every little noise becomes a distraction (refrigerator turning on, clocks, outside noises like dogs barking in the distance or a train in the distance or aliens invading the next town over).

    So, for me, home and in familiar and comfortable surroundings is the preferred — and only — place to write.

    Just out of curiosity . . . why are you looking for a new place to write? It wasn’t clear to me from reading the post.

    • You are so right. There’s no place like home. With my husband here 24/7, and our adult son here as well (presently laid off), plus the new dog … there seem to be so many distractions even if I’m writing in my upstairs nook. My discipline has been lacking, and I’m not staying up there well. I thought slipping away where I can’t go downstairs to see what’s going on might be a good idea – kind of like “going to work.” I’ll see what the next trip holds and make a decision after that.

  2. “If you whine in the forest and there’s no one to hear, is it audible?” Only if you have cheese. 🙂

    Any change brings things you have to adapt to. You’re a wonderment, Maddie.

  3. Maddie!!! Well, I call that a really productive day you had. Of course me not writing much probably makes me bias. LOL
    I’m pretty sure I would totally suck trying to write somewhere else. I like to people watch too much. I’m also at present doing my best hermit impersonation (as you know).
    I’ll stick to writing in my room with Sam laying under my chair. I also have to have silence to write so I put my noise muffling headset on and hear nothing. Not even my keys being hit. Ahhh, silence is so nice. 😉

    • Silence! You grew up with siblings. Wasn’t there always a lot of noise that you had to tune out? How did you come to love silence?

      Silence is hard for me; I have to have noise. Usually when I write, I listen to Top 40 music and have it turned up loud. When I listen to my personal playlist, I sometimes realize huge chunks of music played, but I didn’t “hear” any of it; I tuned it out. I only need it for the noise. 🙂

      • I’ve always had the ability to tune the world out. First learned how when I was young and I read alot. I love silence because of a couple of reasons…the main one being I can relax and meditate in it. It helps keep me balanced in a world of noise and feelings. Rob is like you in that he needs noise all the time. If I played music when I wrote I tend to concentrate on the music and words more than my writing. I’m always listening, so silence works for me as a way to unplug.

  4. You make me laugh, Maddie. I tried the library two weeks ago when I went to write with a friend. Ours was quite crowded with nowhere to sit so we went over to the senior center and borrowed a room for an hour and a half. Turns out she wanted a therapy session again instead of writing. I should charge for that. I’ve tried lots of places to write but I’m easily distracted. I love sitting in Panera bread with a cup of hazelnut coffee, black and on occasion a muffin but I can get into a good flow there if it’s not peak customer time. I’m home alone most of the time so there is no excuse. I think you wanted a change of scenery and writing gave you a good excuse to get it. Sometimes you just have to go with that. It can inspire later writing so enjoy the change and let it work for you. Hugs and enjoy.

    • I haven’t yet given the “closer and newly remodeled” library a chance yet. I’m thinking about doing that tomorrow. Since there’s no kitchen or refrigerator at the library – and no den/tv/Rich/video games at the library – and the computers are usually not available … well, I think I can sit my butt in a chair and stay put easier and write. I would love to try to write in a Panera Bread, but I’m sure I would be too interested in snacking to concentrate. 🙂 Sorry to read your time at the library turned into a therapy session for your friend. I know how that can happen. If I could afford it, I’d buy one of those office pods that sit in your back yard, and I’d have an office to myself out there! 🙂

  5. Isn’t funny how we are influenced by our surroundings when it comes to writing? I always think I’d like to go sit on a bench or in a park, surrounded by nature and just write. It never happens. My best places are on my couch, in my car, and at work. I’m not sure why that is, but maybe because they are places where I’m not distracted by wondering what else is there.

    • I am totally influenced by my surroundings – to include the attitude of my family. If they are grouches, they suck the joy right out of me, and it’s impossible to write. I loved the idea of writing outdoors and did enjoy writing on our deck for quite some time, but the elements/bugs/neighborhood kids eventually made it not so pleasant. I’m giving the second library a try soon and will see how that goes. I like the idea of having a place to “go to work.”

  6. I love your posts! The library scene is so real. I love libraries, but definitely not for writing. They are noisier places than expected, with mothers reading to their children at 3000 decibels ; a volunteer helping an old man with crosswords, using library resources ; staff creating havoc just answering the phone or directing visitors to their chosen shelves. That’s one of the reasons I love libraries : they are places where the community comes together, from little ones to old people and anything in between.
    But not for writing, oh no!!! I’m a regular, and hence noisy and carefree!!
    Long live libraries!

  7. I love your post and the answers. I have often thought of going to the library to write, too. That way I don’t feel guilty about not throwing a load of laundry in or letting the dog out every 10 minutes. Plus on my sofa I’ve got all kinds of things spread out — extra books, notebooks, pens, Ipad, phone, flash drive with music — I’m a hot mess. I do appreciate those days by myself, though. I love being disheveled when no one sees.

    • If I know I’m not leaving the house, I love being disheveled, too. I never used to wear sweatpants, but I sure have enjoyed them with my slippers this winter. The nice thing about the library was that there were plenty of tables, so I didn’t feel bad about spreading out all of my “stuff.” I’m looking forward to giving the next library a try.

  8. Ah, libraries!! Brings back memories. I can actually remember when they only had books and magazines– no computers. A lot quieter then, and yeah, you got hushed if you started blabbin’ to somebody. I remember big massive armchairs that tried to swallow you whole, and a cold massive fireplace that never had a fire in it. And how about that crazy Dewey Decimal System? I used to pull open the card drawers and wonder what it was all about. My hometown library had gigantic ladders that ran on grooves up in the ceiling. You could push them around the perimeter and climb way up to get any book you wanted. BYOP = Bring Your Own Parachute. Guess they’re all gone now, like diving boards at pools, because of liability issues.

    You’re lucky nobody recognized you at the library, my dear Maddie– or you’da been pestered for autographs, and people asking if they could buy official Maddie Cochere Sweatpants on Amazon!! Hope this finds you well and churnin’ out the prose at some hospitable locale!! 😊

  9. My dear Maddie!

    Been awhile, I know. We’re living in surreal times (to put it mildly). I’ve been thinking a lot about friends and connections… 😬💦

    You ARE well and weathering the storm, aren’t you?? Please say yes.

    All well in NH. The virus can’t find me here in the woods— I hope. 😳

    Cheers, Mark 💪😊

    • Dearest Mark,

      I’m so glad you stopped by. You’ve crossed my mind several times lately, and I’ve been wanting to run by your site to touch base.

      Yes, we are well and weathering the storm. I only leave the house once a month to buy groceries (with great precaution); otherwise, we are hunkered down for the duration.

      I’m under the assumption you work from home, yes? I hope work is continuing to come in for you. I’m nearly finished with a new book in my Two Sisters series as well as one in a new series. It sure helps to keep busy.

      Stay safe out there in the woods. Have you tried yodeling in the forest?

      Much love to you, dear.


      • Great to know you’re both well, Maddie, that’s what I wanted to hear! Yes, I DO work from home, so the situation seems pretty normal to me. I feel a little guilty– I’ve been self-isolating for years!

        I still have work, but it does seem likely that freelancers will be taking a hit. Good to know you’re still keeping mystery fans happy– you’ll be overtaking Agatha Christie one of these days!

        Yes indeed, I DO yodel in the woods– keeps the bears away while I’m foraging for acorns!! We’ll get thru this– hang tough and keep smilin’! Cheers, Mark 😘

    • Dearest Mark! Is it acceptable to respond to a comment nearly two months later? I hope so! I am A-OK, but not eating M&M’s or working as hard as I should be. I’ve talked about my mother quite a bit on my blog, and I’m sad to say she had a fall and broke her hip. Nothing went well after that, and as of today, she won’t be with us much longer. She turned 89 this year, and she had a very good life. She will be missed.

      We are still keeping to ourselves as much as possible, and we even learned how to can food this summer. Rich has become a pro at working a pressure canner, and I’ve been dehydrating mushrooms and jalapenos! Might have to come up with a mushroom/jalapeno soup recipe this winter. 🙂

      I hope all is well with you and that work continues to come in for you. It’s going to be a cold winter, so hunker down. Stay safe and warm! Love to you, Mark!

  10. Hi, Maddie! Just checking in to wish you a Merry Christmas! Belated condolences re your Mom. I shall say a prayer for her. Good to know you and Rich canned a lotta plum pudding back in September, so you guys should be all set for some serious feasting!! 😋 💦 Cheers, and God rest ye merry!! 😊

    • How lovely to see you, sweet Mark! I’m happy to report we’ve opened some of that plum pudding to eat, and we didn’t die! So, success!

      My mother did pass in September. If I were still blogging, I’d do a post about her and title it, “She liked socks.” We all miss her, but she had a very long and a very good life. I can only hope to live to be 89 years old (I think). 🙂

      Stay warm up there in the frozen Northeast! I made Rich get a snow blower this year. Forecasts are for Ohio to have “the worst of winter” this year, and I can’t have him out there shoveling massive amounts of snow. I need him to stay healthy to can more plum pudding!

      Love to you, Mark. And Merry Christmas!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s