Blog posts about the Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mysteries and their author Rabbi Ilene Schneider

So here I sit, in completely non-sunny, warm, humid, thunder stormy South Florida, in a Barnes and Noble cafe not far from my parents’ house, laptop hooked up to the free wifi, microsoft word file “first draft” open (along with the rest of the files in the Unleavened Dead directory: “characters,” “notes”), pretending to look studious while checking emails.

I did reread the previous scene I had written and added another one, and I’m going to continue writing as soon as I finish my “break,” but the big question is: why did I have to come here rather than stay and do the same thing at my parents’ house?

Well, for one thing, my parents don’t have wifi, free or otherwise. Yes, I can access the ‘net using my cell phone, but the reception in my parents’ area — or, at least, in their house — is inconsistent at best. It’s frustrating to have the connection drop while I’m in the middle of checking something, such as what the weather was like in late March and early April, 2004. (You’ll understand when you read the book. When I finish writing the book. When I find an agent. When I find a new publisher.)

Of course, I really don’t need an internet connection to do my writing. I save all my research in my “notes” file, including a chart of the weather from March 28-April 3, 2004. (The truth is, I forgot I had copied that chart, and looked it up again. For those of you who are sticklers for accuracy, the site is a great resource.) But if I’m not connected to the internet, what will I do when I need a break? If I leave the computer, I might not want to return to it again.

The other reason I’m sitting in a public venue instead of my parents’ den or kitchen table or wherever is the same reason I never write at home — I can’t. There are just too many distractions. At my parents’, I’ll be listening to (and commenting on) their conversations; the phone will ring; the TV will be on (and I’ll be listening to that, too, especially as they just got a dvr and my mother is becoming addicted to TMC and I’m already addicted to classic movies).

At home, even if no one else is there, the dirty clothes call out to me. Then I’m listening for the washing machine to stop. Then the dryer buzzes. And buzzes. And buzzes. Until I finally give in and fold the clean clothes. Then I notice the unread paper on the kitchen table and decide to take a “few minutes” to read it. An hour or so later, I finish the comics and hear the mail truck. I chat with the mail deliverer (his sister lives at the end of the cul-de-sac), sort through the mail, dump the solicitations and ads into the recycling, decide the bag is getting full and take it out to the recycling can. By now, the second load of laundry in the dryer is buzzing. And buzzing. And buzzing. For some reason, I decide the underwear absolutely must be folded immediately, and the underpants sorted by color. Those chores done (others beckon, but I ignore them), I sit back down at the dining room table in front of the laptop, glance out the window into the backyard, and notice my bird feeders are empty. And the bird baths need to be not just refilled but scrubbed to get rid of the squirrel poop. I’m wondering if I have time to go to one of the two wild bird supply stores in the area (each one seven miles away, in opposite directions) for more suet or mealworms or whatever, but my youngest is texting me that he’s on his way home from school. It’s not a problem as he often comes home to an empty house where he makes himself popcorn and eats it in the family room while watching DVDs until his father or I come home and yell at him for eating in the family room and not doing his homework before watching DVDs, at which point he announces he’s tired and goes to his room for a nap. But chances are there is some place he needs to be within a 1/2 hour of getting home, and I’ll have to drive him.

And that’s just on my day off and doesn’t include the days I’m at my day job.

So I find it easier to do my writing at Borders or B&N. For some reason, the B&N near us doesn’t have any outlets for recharging laptops, but Borders does. So I go to B&N until my battery drains, then drive the 3/4 of a mile to Borders for a change of scenery and a power outlet (if there’s an open table near the wall). But no matter where I go (Panera and Dunkin’ Donuts have free wifi, too), I find I can filter out and ignore the background noise in public places. No distractions unless I want them (such as a new issue of Torchwood magazine or one of the three birding magazines I read or of Mental Floss).

I just looked out the window and it’s pouring. Guess I’ll have to sit here a while longer. Maybe I’ll even get some more scenes written. Or I would if the power didn’t keep threatening to go off. Good thing my battery is full so I could pull the plug before the laptop fries.

By the way, the Barnes & Noble I’m currently at in Boynton Beach has more power outlets than I’ve ever seen. They also have a copy of Talk Dirty Yiddish on the shelf. I like it here.

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