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Spaces For Making

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

I didn’t have too much surface space in my kitchen in Bed-Stuy, so when I cooked, I kept it simple. Yes, I used cutting boards and mixing bowls. But much of my cooking equipment was stored in pantries or cabinets. Walking back and forth was problematic, time was of the essence, so I kept equipment usage to a minimum. The kitchen table was my preparation space, but if family preferred sitting there instead of the dining room, I was cramped. Though oftentimes they become chef’s helper, cutting onions or stripping thyme leaves from branches. Of course, regardless of the space limitations, the kitchen was the place for food making.

We had other spaces for making in the house. My husband had the basement. His workbench and all his tools were there. Every size nail and wrench, screwdriver and power saw were available to make picture frames and Murphy beds. Artists also have their spaces–– studios, manufacturers factories, scientists labs.

Each making space provides just the right lighting, air quality, and convenient equipment. Workers may enhance the space with the art and wall colors which inspire them. They may even add the right music for ambience. A family friend uses her she-shed for creating fabric designs. People have dedicated spaces for making.

After a few months of searching, I came across an interesting spot. The librarian game me a tour beginning on the fifth floor. At ten tables, patrons pecked away at computers. A few read books or wrote on long, yellow pads. I had found just the right spot. I didn't realize how seriously patrons took the No Talking sign until about a month later. Everybody was busy as usual.

An hour in, a lady cleared her throat, piercing the peace. Her cough persisted. I had a view of the entire room, except for one row of writers behind me where she sat to my right. We all stayed buried in our work.

Someone must have offered her a piece of candy because along with the the pecking of

computers and her muffled cough, her strain with the cellophane wrapper became apparent.

It didn't take long before at least four members looked irritatingly in the direction of the woman until she finally retrieved the candy from the wrapper. Then they resumed their work. So did I with a chuckle.

After four hours, I was ready to pack my bags.

East Harlem Café (no longer in business).

The perfect environment for writing varies by individual. To get their juices flowing in NYC, writers have found a small table at the East Harlem Café on Lexington and 104th, at a bench in Central Park, the third floor of the mid-Manhattan library and countless other places. Brewed coffee, swaying trees, some noise, absolute quiet. Writer’s needs vary. Everybody likes to get to the special place that allows their juices to flow. What's your space for making?

Here are other New York City writing spots:

A bench in Central Park is a personal favorite in the fall

A bench on the Hudson River Promenade filled with inspiration (Photographer, MJM).

3. Promenades (Hudson River, Brooklyn Heights, Battery Park, East River)

4. Times Square Red Steps

5. Brooklyn Museum Steps.

7. Fifth Avenue Public Library (Quiet Rooms 217 and 219)

8. Norma Hopcraft recommends New York’s Fire Island, where she can “hone [her] craft.”

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