I used to wake up every morning between 5 and 6am; hit my computer at home even before brushing my teeth. I used to pride myself on writing before brushing. I had a tiny room in my apartment that I allocated for writing, and I always kept the door shut. No one was allowed in without knocking. That worked for a while. These days, I still do my best writing in the morning, but I no longer write from home as much. The routine has changed. Somehow, home has become separate from work. I think it’s because for many years now I’ve been a gypsy, moving from city to city. That moving has made “home” a flexible word. It’s also, however, made home sacred. It’s a kind of paradox, I realize.
As a result, for the past few years, I’ve been writing out of cafes. This sounds like a cliché, but it’s the honest truth. I like the ambient noise, the snippets of overheard conversation, the corners in these cafes that have become mine. They are both territories I’ve semi-marked, and territories I share. I like to start at one, particular café that opens at 7 AM most mornings. [I have one of these in LA and another in Miami.]
I usually don’t stay there the whole day, though. What I do most of the time is go from café to café every couple of hours (I have two or three favorites, apart from the early-openers). In this way, I change the landscape, which, in turn, changes my mindscape, which, in turn, affects my writing in a positive way. I see the shift in location as an organizer, a palette cleanser, so to speak. Moving from one place to another also gives me time to filter and think through what I’ve written.
I’m sure my routine will change again, which I’m open to. Whatever works. The idea is not to get too picky, too bogged down, too closed, too attached. In this way the writing, like life, is dynamic.
Vanessa Garcia is a multidisciplinary artist working as a novelist, playwright, and journalist. Her debut novel, White Light, was published in 2015, to great critical acclaim. Named one of the Best Books of 2015 by NPR, Al Dia, Flavorwire, and numerous other publications and institutions, the novel catapulted Garcia into the “2016 Top 10 New Latino Writers to Watch (and Read).”
Her plays have been produced in Edinburgh, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and other cities around the world. These include The Cuban Spring (a full-length Carbonell Award nominee for Best New Play, 2015) and The Crocodile’s Bite (a short included in numerous anthologies such as Smith & Kraus’ Best Ten Minute Plays of 2016; the City Theatre Anthology 2015; and the Writer’s Digest Annual Award Anthology, 2015).
As a journalist, feature writer, and essayist, her pieces have appeared in The LA Times; The Miami Herald; The Washington Post; The Southern Humanities Review; The Art Basel Magazine; The Rumpus, among numerous other publications. She’s also a Huffington Post blogger.
She holds a PhD from the University of California Irvine in English (with a focus in Creative Nonfiction), an MFA from the University of Miami (in fiction), and a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University (English and Art History).
She’s currently completing a memoir entitled My Cuban Routes.
(Above pictures: Vanessa’s favorite cafe, a laundromat in LA, and Vanessa’s car–in the middle of a gypsy moment/move, as per the boxes and yoga mat in back seat.)