Writing in Public

Many days, I marvel that my life passes as I move from one windowless closet, through a tunnel, to another windowless closet. Is it any wonder, then, that I spend whatever writing time I can writing and reading in public? In A Room of One’s Own and Jacob’s Room, Woolf wrote about the oppressive atmosphere of the British Library, with its vast dome encircled by a band of seventeen male names. While I’m sympathetic to her irritation, I have seldom felt excluded (though often intimidated). For me, studying in a great library’s reading room is one of life’s richest simple pleasures. Something about being in the midst of books in a high-ceilinged room with shafts of dusty sunlight pouring in inspires me and provides just the right amount of distraction. The books around-- reference works and encyclopedias--tend not to tempt but to inspire. The people around are interesting in their foibles but mostly silent. I get caught up in the competition of being able to stay concentrated as long as the others.

Today, though, the weather is grand and I remembered that Bryant Park is a wi-fi hotspot, so I’m writing from a little green desk in this little patch of green, surrounded by skyscrapers. In front of me, kindergartners play duck, duck, goose; behind me, a man reads into a microphone. Thanks to Google & wifi, I can tell you that it’s Elmore Leonard. I’m tempted to abandon my own book and listen to him talk about his, but, for once, I’ll resist.