I've run into a problem I've never had in all the years I've been writing away from home. I've written in coffeehouses, libraries, the park, and even burger joints all over the metro Atlanta area. When you're a regular at these spots, you get to know the other regulars. Everyone usually speaks, exchanges a few pleasantries, and then focuses on reading, studying, writing, etc.
Recently, I met a person who has become a regular at my favorite spot. She seems to be very nice, pleasant, extremely intelligent and well read. She expressed an interest in self-publishing, so we've had a couple of brief conversations about books and the publishing industry, but no matter the subject, this woman can veer off into a discussion about her work experience, religion, politics and even the library of Alexander the Great!
I realized local coffeehouses are hangouts for folks who want to socialize, but I've explained to her that my time is limited, and I hang out there to work. The problem is that no matter how many times I tell her I need to concentrate and can't talk, she just goes on and on. Since I always work with music playing, I have earphones on, but she will come and stand in front of my table until I look up.
I understand most non-writers don't comprehend that the least little interruption can yank a writer right out of the zone. Most often, when that happens, you never get the same thought back in the same way. What do you do when someone sees you working and still plops down near you and says, "I don't mean to break your concentration, but...?
To respond to her questions about e-publishing, I sent her an e-mail with several articles I'd written along with a document I put together containing tons of links to the best information out there on the subject. In the e-mail I reiterated about my time. She isn't here today, so perhaps I finally got through...
How would you handle this situation without becoming known as that "nasty writer lady"?