Rather than point out a new article or contest today, I thought I’d do something a little less parroting. The traveler’s guide to writing while on business. We’ll start with New York. As the rule goes, never save your best work for some other project. You have to run through the wall and keep running.

Upon my first inundation with the city, all creative work went into a halt for about three weeks while I got used to existing in a technicolor universe. People shoved, snarled, talked to themselves, and slammed into me as they passed. I found them rude. The crazy people leapt out at me. I was terrified. No longer.

Just yesterday morning a man baring a striking resemblance to Napoleon walked by me, wide eyed with hand slipped into shirt between third and fourth button that was hanging lopsided out of his kakis. At eight in the morning he was showing obvious signs of a three day bar binge. Yet he walked by, stately and wide-eyed as if he was a stranger in a strange land. His own fairly tale, lost in the crowd.

I find these sort of sidewalk shows colorful reminders to be enjoyed and savored. Life is strange. People are strange. In New York no one remembers your name. Rejoice in it. Oh, and if they do, and it doesn’t get you a good table, there’s always five more restaurants right next door.

On that note, what does a writer DO when in need of a good, quiet, but-not-too-quiet place to sit down and write?

Consider these, and tell your friends. I’m officially at the point where I can write trapped in an elevator filling with halon if I need to, so consider these my secret stash of burrows, from me to you.

Where to write while traveling in New York:

1. Tea Spot. 127 Macdougal St. (corner of W 3rd St.) Two words: fire place. Skip the pastries and find the stairs to the basement for that cozy half-underground feel.

2. Union Square park bench. It’s spring, the kids and lovers and dogs and skate boarders and frisbee throwers are all out at the first hint of dusk. A park bench and a laptop are allowed, and the din of shiny happy people works wonders.

3. The Irish Memorial. Actually, not the memorial, the fish pond just below it. The marble is warm at dusk and the fish nip at the water in the Summer so you’ll know they’re still there, thinking dreamy thoughts. About croutons. It’s tucked away. Some people miss it entirely unless they’re walking past. You have to start out walking away from where you think you should to end up where you want to go…

4. Franchias. The tea pagoda on Park. Hit the stone eagle and you’ve gone too far. Hit the brass eagle with the quill of arrows and you’re at Grand Central. How did you manage that? When you go in for tea, remember to look up. Flowers on the ceiling. Michelangelo would approve. Try the plum tea and some dumplings.

5. Sardi’s. 234 West 44th Street. Where people will see you open your laptop and mistake you for someone important, then think the better of it, then decide you might be anyway and they don’t want to tick you off, so you get really good service without the pain of having to fake an autograph. Between chapters you’ll get to hob nob with the locals who miss the “real Sardi’s” back before it got sold. Kindly people who only stop in now “because it’s closer than the diner.” People like Ed Koach’s old lawyer. Order coffee and eat ahead. Red walls will guide you to your last page. Yes, they’ve heard people mouthing redrum with their starched napkins before. …Not that it isn’t still fun.

6. The Harlem Tea Room. Madison Avenue and 118th Street. Poetry readings, book signings, musical events, art shows and seminars. Jazz on occasion.

7. Chez Betty Cafe. 256 E 3rd St | Btwn Ave B & Ave C. Cheesecake to sin for by a little old Italian woman, or so they will tell you in the most languid and perfect poise of which French woman are naturally adorned. Lovely decor, comfy seat cushions, and a hostess who is fine with you sitting quietly to contemplate at the end of a long day. Also enough off the beaten path that a flash mob is uncommon, barring NewYorican Poet’s Cafe gatherings.

8. Sympathy for the Kettle. 109 St. Marks Place. How could I not?

9. Battery park boardwalk and pier way. Get down below Clark Street by the West Side Highway and you’ll also have a few of those nice harbor inlets with a clear view of the Statue of Liberty and the sun setting on the dappled river. Bring a blanket and there is actual grass upon which you may actually bask, notebook in hand.

10. Please Don’t Tell. 113 St Marks Place. This may sound familiar. You go into a hotdog shop. You find the phone booth in the back. You pick up the phone. You clandestinely tell a mysterious person who your reservations are under. Suddenly you step into an old speak easy of a bar where you can knock a few drinks back and feel glad to be on somebody else’s ship for a change.

Advertisements