Jo Nesbø’s Perfect Writing Room (That He Never Uses)
On the Simple Pleasures of Writing in a Cafe
Some years ago I bought a big apartment, an old attic, that had a beautiful view of the hillsides of Oslo. I bought a big desk that they had specially made for me, I guess they brought it in pieces and assembled it in the big room. I have bookshelves there, a big computer, all my music (CDs, Spotify, Sonos), great loudspeakers. And I have an espresso machine, a guitar, a huge couch and a TV and a fridge. And I’m usually the only one there. In short: The perfect writing room.
So, when I get up in the morning I take a long look at it, assemble my notes and laptop and head to where I write. A very small coffee shop where I’ve been going for 15 years. I have to get in early to get one of the two tables at the end of the ”corridor” that is the coffee shop. It’s the only tables where I really can write. The clientele are mostly regulars, it has a friendly, everybody-knows-each-other vibe. For example, many people there know me (although I keep from getting involved too much socially, since I’m there to work) and sometimes, when ”my” tables are busy, they will graciously offer to move to another table. I always say thank you, that’s very generous, but no need, but if they insist I will promptly say: ”well, in that case…” and put my computer at the table.
If I don’t get that offer, I will wait for my chance at another table, maybe reading the papers, or—if it looks like they are staying for a while, ask if it’s ok that I share their table. Nobody has refused yet, but if they did, I’d be ok with that, I guess. Although I myself have never refused to share my table with anyone, I even smile and welcome them. (But the smile is not that warm, it’s a smile meant to tell them that though I follow common etiquette, I’d prefer they leave as soon as they have finished their coffee–or, if they are working too–move when another table is available.)
I have no idea why it has to be that room. It’s nothing special, in winter it’s even a bit humid and cold. But they have good coffee. And I’ve written some good stuff there.