In the previous post I laid out my plans to sound out cafés to write in San Francisco, but yesterday’s find was such a brilliant one – one that brought me a scrumptious breakfast bagel, a delicious salad for lunch, a gallon of tea, and six hours of solid writing – that my muse ordered me to stay put. And what kind of writer would I be if I challenged my muse?


So I stay put and find myself again at the Café Francisco on the second day of my writing journey. It’s morning still but I have already written 1,400 words. Good words. Great words. Some might fall in the revision battle, a lot might fall in the revision battle, but for now they feel good. The story flows.



I mused over that too after reaching my target yesterday. I not only wondered what spurred me on to write for six hours – other than my muse of course – but also if the writing was different from what I would’ve jotted down had I stayed home. Does my story take another direction now I’ve forced myself outside my comfort zone? I remembered Knausgård asking himself the same question in the first book of his My Struggle cycle:

“To sit there and write a novel and see how the surroundings slowly and imperceptibly shaped the writing, for the way we think is of course as closely associated with the specific surroundings of which we form part as the people with whom we speak and the books we read. Japan, but also Argentina, where familiar European features were lent quite a different hue, shifted to quite a different place, and the USA, one of the small towns in Main, for example, with landscape so like Norway’s southern coast, what might have sprung off the page there?

From: My Struggle – Book One, Karl Ove Knausgård


I do think my writing is different here. I know for a fact that my story has taken a different direction, a different shape even. My characters, and my protagonist in particular, behave differently than they would’ve if I had devised them at my desk back home. But also on a word level being here changes the writing. The atmosphere, the talking around me, the views, the unfamiliarity as a whole provoke dialogues, descriptions, symbols, metaphors, similes that would never have popped up had I been in Amsterdam, where everything is comme d’habitude.

Is that a good thing?

Yes. It is. Being in San Francisco shakes up my thinking and opens my senses in a new way. It pushes me beyond my limits. It excites and inspires and makes me greedy. Greedy for more words, more writing. For more stories. Greedy for more time to write.


Oh, and even the familiar here turns out to be unfamiliar: Parmesan & Gouda, the best of two cheeses together in one cheese. A product of Holland… Seriously?