Ah, New York, New York! The Melting Pot where singers, musicians, writers and artists of all kind gather to make it big. Why be an exception?
In January 2019, I spent two weeks in New York studying for my Master of Fine Arts degree. It was my first time in the Big Apple and I was equally as overwhelmed, intrigued and exhausted being surrounded by concrete and construction, the blinding lights of Time Square and the opulent wealth of Wall Street.
I’m in the midst of writing a travel memoir. In our MFA residency, we listened to lectures by agents, writers and editors, and pitched our nonfiction books for feedback.
I also had time to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, wander through Central Park and Grand Central Station having “You” and “Gossip Girl” moments, go to two Broadway shows and two operas, cheer on upcoming talent at Ellen’s Stardust Dinner, listen to a quartet in a swanky jazz club and edit the first draft of my 52,000-word manuscript.
Here are five places I edited my book in NYC:
1. Ground Central
Area: Wall Street
My first (and favourite) coffee shop I found, Ground Central, is in a cozy corner near Water Street. The exterior is black, but the interior offers distressed brick, cubbies with bookshelves and padded leather chairs. I set up my laptop at the central wooden table, sipped a delicious Matcha latte and nervously laid out my scribbled-on and highlighted pages.
2. NYC Public Library
Area: Bryant Park
Stunning ceilings, carved walls and painted panels contribute artistic inspiration to the hushed atmosphere of the public library. I walked through the imposing columns of the lower level and up the extravagant staircase to the jaw-dropping murals on the third floor. It’s a bit difficult to get serious work done here; if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to spend most of your time (silently) snapping pictures.
3. Blue Bottle
Area: All over!
If you work better without WiFi, head to ultra-hipster Blue Bottle. I brought my notebook and rewrote my pitch the evening before I’d have to repeat it to editors and agents. This place is serious about their coffee—filter drips line the counter, and all roasts are sold at optimal freshness—but as it was already dark and I needed a good sleep, I opted for a lavender tea.
4. Bean & Bean
Area: New York Stock Exchange
After pitching my book to an editor, I felt energized and encouraged. I spent the next three hours transcribing my pen-and-paper edits onto my laptop. I paired my progress with a bagel and hazelnut latte. Around me, business men and women shuffled through The New York Times paper. Tourists flipped through Lonely Planet books with frigid fingers, warming up from the harsh winter outside.
5. Bluestone Lane
Area: Times Square
Australia has the best coffee—and you can get it in New York. I paired a perfect latte with toast smothered in almond butter, honey and sliced banana for breakfast while I flipped through ten or so pages of my manuscript. This locale’s modern white walls were contrasted with green hanging plants. The only thing it was missing? Seats with a back.
BONUS: Your Hotel Lobby
Area: Wherever you decide to stay…
After 14 days paying $4 to 5 American for lattes, my Visa bill was hurting. So, I snagged free coffee from the hotel lobby and a small table for my final editing space. Then, I took SuperShuttle to Newark airport with the last pages of my nonfiction memoir, tentatively titled Backbone.
I can’t wait for you to read it.
Have you been to NYC? Did you write a book or screenplay? I want to hear about it!