Resistance Writer

The most poignant of the unwittingly revealing prefaces of a story that ends badly begins with, “All I wanted was  . . . ” This morning, as I was oscillating between the dozing and waking states, there popped into my stream of consciousness the recognition that maybe —just maybe —on a day in which I had nothing else scheduled, I could get some writing done, without interruptions. Fortunately, I’ve a place I can get away to occasionally, as near to a scriptorium as I can hope to find within easy reach. (That fact alone qualifies me for cosmic wrath. Who am I to upset the balance of nature by striving for an unqualified good?)

But I discovered that my nearby writing refuge wasn’t available today. Consequently, I was “all dressed up with no place to go.” That is, my satchel of writing gear was in my hand, my writing ideas were in my mind, and my expectation of a fulfilled desire for writing held the reins of my heart. I was determined not to return home dissatisfied and empty-handed, or in this case, empty-paged. What to do? Answering that question should not have been difficult. All I wanted was a quiet place to write.

The Shops in the Mall

I recalled that I had in my wallet gift cards for various coffee shops. Perhaps a local mall could afford me an opportunity for a little bit of quiet writing? Given my modified and moderate (or so I thought) expectations, the nearby mall offered tantalizing inducements for hope. There were three coffee shops and a tea shop within walking distance of each other. All I needed to do was park the car, order a beverage, and start writing.

At the first coffee shop, the coffee was good, the atmosphere comfortable, and the “music” unbearable. Who sets up a coffee shop with a music scheme suitable for a mosh pit? I was about to write, “You would think that  . . . ”, but stopped myself in time.

So I took my coffee outside and sat at a table on the shaded patio. There was traffic noise, but it was at a sufficiently consistent level of din that one could grow accustomed to it without suffering it as an insuperable distraction.

The same couldn’t be said for the young lady seated at the table next to mine, once I had made the careless mistake of making myself comfortable. Given her age, it was no surprise to me when she demonstrated her facility for yelling into her phone, which lay on the table in front of her, while scrolling on the screen with one hand and preening into a mirror held by the other. I continue to marvel (but not wonder) at people who are so very self-conscious while giving no indication of having ever been self-aware.

She spoke both at a high level of volume and in extensive detail about matters of such a nature that I found myself wishing she could soon find the services of a good confessor —as well as the aid of a doctor, pharmacist, therapist, and hygienist. I stayed to finish my coffee, during which time I didn’t attempt to do anything even minimally writerly —not so much as the uncapping of a pen. I scooped up my satchel and set off undaunted (or so I told myself) in search of another writing venue.

The other coffee shops had the same level of musical excess without the benefit of outdoor seating. The tea shop, though promising, had a zeal for local (which is to say, idiosyncratic) Covid mask mandates that precluded my being a customer there for the foreseeable future. All I wanted was a quiet plact to write. Should I accept that the cosmos would deny me this simple good and resign myself to not writing today?

Yet, as I see it, if I have anything of lasting value to offer anyone (including God), it must include words. So I set out again, looking for a place where I could sit down and write.

The Bookstore Café

Robert McTeigue is host of The Catholic Current, airing on The Station of the Cross Catholic Media Network. His latest books from Ignatius Press are Real Philosophy for Real People: Tools for Truthful Living (2020) and Christendom Lost and Found: Meditations for a Post Post-Christian Era (2022).

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

more from the online archives

25.3—May/Jun 2012

The Soul of Liberty

Calls for Freedom, Democracy & Secularism End Up with None of the Above by Hunter Baker

21.1—January/February 2008

One Flesh of Purest Gold

John Chrysostom’s Discovery of the Blessings & Mysteries of Marriage by Mike Aquilina

27.3—May/June 2014

Religious Freedom & Why It Matters

Working in the Spirit of John Leland by Robert P. George

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone