We rearranged our furniture. Now my writing desk is downstairs, in our den, away from the stove and my French press. The first morning I woke to write, it was 20 minutes before I got to my keyboard after filling the tea kettle, grinding beans, waiting for water to boil, then waiting for coffee to steep, then doctoring it up to ready it for drinking, then carrying my steaming mug downstairs to the basement where I finally pushed the space bar and my blank screen blinked to life.
Half my writing time was gone before it even began.
It used to be, when the computer was around the corner from the kettle, that I could write between the waiting. Now, I needed a new routine or the new furniture pattern would not work. That evening, I surveyed my new writing space – a carpeted, wood-panelled, finished-basement room with a futon, a TV cabinet, a sliding glass door, and two book shelves – for a solution to my coffee problem. Under a window, behind our kids’ short legged craft table, was an electrical outlet. I pulled my mini coffee pot off the storage shelf in the laundry room and placed it on the table, seven steps from my writing chair.
Now, every evening, after we’ve eaten and washed dishes, while our children brush their teeth and don their pajamas, I grind coffee for the following morning. I love the ritual of it, of measuring and grinding in our clean kitchen at bedtime, my mind at rest after a full day of family living. The only light is from the bulb over the stove, and there’s a serenity in the tidy, well-used, put-to-bed kitchen.
In the warm half-light of the stove bulb, I think about tomorrow’s practice as I fill the coffee carafe to the 2-cup mark, collect the lid from the coffee grinder, which now contains fresh grinds from two scoops of beans, and walk the carafe and the beans downstairs to the basement. Upstairs, our children lay snuggled under comforters, with their bedside lamps on, reading. I place a filter in the basket, pour the pre-measured water into the reservoir, the pre-measured grounds into the the white paper filter, and set the carafe on the warming plate. I close the lid, check that the machine is plugged in, and resist the urge to press the “On” button. I then turn off the light, and climb the stairs to kiss our children good night.
Sometimes I think this new ritual of pre-making my coffee, of closing out my day with preparation for a new one, of granting myself this happy moment of “what will I write tomorrow?”, is as satisfying as the writing itself. The rituals are part of the package. Part of what make me love what I do. One of my favorite parts of the writing life.