The time I’ve taken off writing has given me much time to reflect and prepare for the eventual return to my days of keyboard waltzing. One discovery I’ve made in this time is how much environment can effect one’s writing. I never did like writing in my bedroom. It’s a place of rest, not of work. The moment I walk inside, I feel peaceful and relaxed, not exactly what one needs to get the creative juices flowing.
For a while, I had been writing at the store while waiting for my shifts. My shift would run from 2pm to 11pm. I’d go in at 7 or 8 to beat the traffic, and then work for the next six hours. This worked well, until someone gave me the WiFi password for the store, severely cutting into my time.
After much work, I was able to get my shift changed to the morning, arriving at 4:30 am and leaving at 2pm. Now there was no more time to write at the store, and I had an entire rest of the day to work with.
I had more time, but no place. I needed a place that kept me on edge, put me in the right mood, and didn’t have the distractions of the information highway. As it turned out, my dream location turned out to be a little place at Griffith Park Observatory.
The Cafe at the End of the Universe is a great little place near the planetarium’s gift shop. It sells a hot meal with a menu that rotates by the day, as well as its usual quarry of massive hot dogs, cold subs, ice cream and chips. It has great windows that overlook the city of Los Angeles, letting the sun pour in during the day before turning blue by moonlight.
Best of all, it’s open late. Very late.
As the hours wear on and the light drops lower, the Cafe at the End of the Universe grows ever more and more quiet and isolated. Kind of like a blend of coffee shop and Overlook Hotel, minus the crazed Jack Nicholson. You can hear the insects chirping on the lawn outside amidst the chatter of late night star gazers. Little by little there are less and less people in the cafe, until only the custodians shuffling their brooms across the floor to pick up any stray debris left behind by the day’s usual festivities.
I went there last week on Wednesday to do some last minute edits to a horror script, to kind of test the waters and see how late this place stayed open. It doesn’t close until 9 pm. So, where I to arrive shortly after noon, the peace and time provided by this location would be most plentiful. For that, I would be most productive. I certainly was last week.
9 o’clock came and I packed up my computer bag and headed outside for the short walk back to the car. With the air clear and the night quiet, I cast a look to the south to see the ledge overlooking Los Angeles. What a sight it was.
The lights of the Hollywood Bowl aimed high in the air, almost directly at the crescent moon that served as our night light. A smog lit the air over the skyscrapers, apartment buildings and retail venues who too were preparing to close their doors for a long night. The lights below cast themselves against the rancid vapor, illuminating it as a white mist that lingered over the city like a blanket. Leaving the cafe and looking at this place, I felt such satisfaction.
Satisfaction. Enough satisfaction to warrant a performance by the Rolling Stones. Such satisfaction that I’d come to this place and done so much work, and this peaceful if a little polluted vision was my reward before the short drive back to my Burbank apartment and a good night’s sleep.
Many writers look a long time to find a place that speaks to them, that lets them tap into their very soul and unearth the words that try to escape every day. I believe I’ve found mine, and all I had to do was go to the end of the universe.
And the hot dogs are good too.