I mostly write at my local Starbucks for three to four hours in the morning. Grande Americano with water brought to the bottom of the shots line. Yes, I’m that jerky specific. But the crew here is incredibly nice and understanding of my jerky order.
So I write at the coffee shop. Not cliché at all.
I’ve learned to write pretty much anywhere, but this particular shop, another in a chain with generic appeal and ubiquitous presence, is where I prefer. I just like this place, the way the morning light comes in, the earthy décor and distressed wood. It’s comfortable. When people ask why I write here, I jokingly say, it’s the vibes, which I only half believe. But yeah, I do actually half believe. I think the energy of a writing space can seep into the writing; I think surroundings can be conducive to the work. So when I find somewhere that works, I tend to stay there, tapping into that energy, those vibes. Which, I know, you’re probably thinking get a grip, Jenny.
But it’s true. This place is busy and I get to observe a lot of people. How they walk, how they interact, how they carry themselves. I like to imagine their internal dialogue. I observe how people hold or don’t hold the door open for one another. Or how some will tolerate sitting uncomfortably close when it’s crowded while others won’t move their belongings. Sometimes there’s an old guy who watches a young woman walk by and gazes at her rear end. Sometimes he feels my stare and realizes someone has noticed and looks embarrassed for a moment. Sometimes people are unfazed by a person transitioning to be a woman while other times they sneak looks when she’s not looking. Sometimes somebody rushes in and (rather smugly) grabs a preordered mobile order as others stand in line looking at their phones. A few look around instead of at their phones and I wonder if they’re observing. I slink in my seat and try to go unnoticed. I wonder in what ways I am judged by my worst or best micro behaviors.
It’s interesting—this changing portrait of people at their best and worst on this micro, everyday level. It makes me wonder, curious, sometimes angry or empathetic. This activity around me, in its small, mundane way, reminds me we are human. We are all just living, going about our day, getting our coffee. And that’s what I try to capture in my stories in some way, what it means to be human, in both the smallest and largest sense of the word. That’s why I write here.
I think that’s what I mean when I say it’s the vibes.
Before writing her debut novel, The Downside of Being Charlie (Running Press Kids), Jenny Torres Sanchez studied English at the University of Central Florida and taught high school for several years in the Orange County school system. Her students were some of the coolest, funniest, strangest, and most eclectic people she’s ever met. She’s grateful to have taught every single one of them and credits them for inspiring her to write YA. She is also the author of the YA novels, Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia (Running Press Kids) and Because of the Sun (forthcoming from Delacorte Press, January 2017). Jenny also writes short stories–many of which rooted in her Hispanic culture. She currently writes full-time and lives in Florida with her husband and children. She is represented by Kerry Sparks of the Levine Greenberg Agency.
Visit Jenny here: jennytorressanchez.com.