Writing In Public
I’m sitting in a new tea cafe that just opened up in the Village with my friend Nivair, just soaking up the cafe ambiance and drinking expensive tea. I love finding new cafes and other places to write in the city, especially since my ‘old’ haunts often go sour long before I’m done with them. This has been a constant source of annoyance for me since I moved back to the city four years ago. And I am on a constant hunt for good places to chill and write.
People often ask me why I can’t write at home, and I have no good answer for them. I can rarely get in the mood at home, can rarely even work up the energy. It could be that I don’t have an office space per se — my desk and such is in the living room — but it could just be that I am odd.
I like writing in cafes and other public spaces. I like the din of other people’s voices around me, which are often mixed with music. I guess I also dig the energy. I’m not one of those people who needs to be seen writing to feel like a real writer, I just need to be out of the house.
This is not always the best idea for my wallet. Sitting in a cafe or coffee house for hours means you have to pay to justify the space you’re taking up. Unless it’s a Starbucks. I never feel guilty for taking up space in a Starbucks. With an indie cafe I want to help them stay in business so I can keep coming there to write, so I buy stuff. A whole day can cost $20 if you’re not careful.
So in addition to cafes I also seek out good hotel lobbies, and I’m pretty talented at finding them. My current favorite hotel is the Ace on 29th street. They’ve got their lobby set up for laptop jockeys like me, with a long communal table with outlets in it, which is very convenient. And since it’s a lobby, they don’t mind if you don’t eat and they’re open all night and all day. It’s pretty perfect. Except on Friday and Saturday nights.
Anyway, my obsession for finding good places to write long ago led me to create this list on Yelp, which is an adjunct to this massive list of places with free wi-fi in the city. Every time I add something new to that list and it hits the front page of Yelp I get a new compliment as more people discover it. There are a ton of people like me who need the comfort of a public place to get their work done. Or to waste time on the Internet.
How many of you are like me and need to be out of the house to write? How many of you need to be in your house to write? And how many of you are lucky enough that it doesn’t matter?