Sometimes it seems as if everybody wants to be a novelist. I’m sitting in my local coffee shop, where I retreated in order to — what else? — work on my own novel. The place is not crowded, but I count three others hiding behind their laptop screens. At the table beside mine, a man is explaining his screenplay’s entire backstory to a red-haired woman who cannot ask questions because of his rapid-fired explanations. He is in love with his flawed characters, his unique setting, his intricate plot. He pauses only to glance suspiciously over his shoulder at me as if afraid I will steal his ideas, despite the headphones firmly planted on my head.

I love to write in cafes, especially those, such as this one, that charge for internet access, thus removing the temptation to go online. (Which is why this entry will be posted after I am home — if I survive a return trip to my house. But more on that later.) Conveniently enough, relocating to a coffee shop also removes the temptation to clean house, talk on the phone, or admire my cats instead of work on my book — although I admit that it takes a special kind of writers’ block to encourage me to clean house instead of write.

Beyond those temptations, however, I have another reason for my change of venue: sheer terror. I’ve been sitting on the futon in my living room all morning, double-fisting mugs of tea and pretending to write, which means that I actually thought about my plot for a while and even wrote ninety-eight words. Then I updated my Facebook profile, read a few blogs, and played Jigsawdoku until my eyes glazed over. (I console myself with the knowledge that I’m really more of an afternoon writer, and I’m ahead of schedule anyway, but it doesn’t help much.)

And then around an hour ago I slipped into the kitchen to brew another cup of tea, and found the following sight waiting for me upon my return. Please pardon the fuzziness of the picture; there are limits to both my camera’s zoom lens and my willingness to risk my life for a clearer shot. As is wise, since shortly after I sneaked in a photograph, they lasered the UPS guy with their eyes. Then they ate him. I feared I may be next, so I grabbed a notebook and went into hiding. Another thing it turns out coffee shops are good for: covert operations. Just ask Mr. Movie Script, who still seems convinced I’m a spy.

Lords of the Laptop
The Basil (left) and Echo. They have jealousy issues. Also, they’ll mess you up.