I tend to fall asleep at desks. Some years ago, when I started a job at a tv production company, they put me at a desk in an office all to myself at the very top of the house. Little work was done but I had some of the best sleeps of my life up there. For that reason, my writing day takes place in a particular London coffee shop with an old sofa.
My 9 to 5 is both mentally and physically strenuous, so I tend to do my writing at the weekend. It’s here, on a corner of Southgate Road in De Beauvoir that I recently finished my first children’s book, ‘A Wingwam To Wind Up The Sun’. For some reason the background jazz, 1950s radiogram and uncoordinated sticks of furniture combine to create the perfect environment to leave planet Earth and travel into Space with my characters. The shop is off the beaten track so it ebbs and flows with people during the day, a rhythm which I find comforting when writing.
On top of the chest of drawers are flyers and business cards advertising everything from hypno-birthing classes to psychic readings by Cosmic Nik (who has two degrees in psychology and is an expert in the Law of Attraction). On occasion the sofa is busy and I have to sit at the desk by the window. Thankfully coffee shops tend to have a lot of caffeine knocking around and until the sofa becomes available, this keeps my head off the desk.
I sometimes forget to leave and not notice when I’m the only one left, despite the closed shutters and the music having stopped. Good writing is often about what happens between the lines. It’s the same in a place like this. The coffee is incidental. This place does it for me.
Martin Campbell is a children’s writer and illustrator based in Shoreditch