Thursday, June 28, 2007

the write address

I am looking for a new apartment. My own place, for the first time ever. It's both terrifying and exhilarating. For the past three years, I've lived in a cozy three-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side with two terrific roomies. Before that, I lived with one of my current roomies in a one-bedroom (we made it work) on the East Side, and before THAT there was my parents' place and college. So me -- alone, with no one to kill bugs or help me with the can opener or chat with me when I walk in the door ( and also with no one to jump in the shower before me, no one to blast the TV when I want to sleep, no one to weigh in on my decorating choices...) -- is going to feel VERY new.

In New York City, looking for an apartment is like a full-time job. Prices are insane. There's always a catch. You want it all -- good light, safety, space, maybe a park within reach -- but the universe, or perhaps the real estate gods, merely laugh. It's a constant uphill battle to find the right place. And for a writer, I think, it's even more difficult.

Even though I've developed a taste for writing in Starbucks and libraries over the years, I still like to write at home when I can. So whenever I see an apartment for the first time, I invariably think "Can I write here?" Is there room for my desk, is the light good enough, will the traffic below inspire me or annoy me? Of course there is no way to tell until you have really moved in. But I'm rather obsessive about these qualities in an apartment. What I would truly love is a space that would allow me my own bedroom, living room, and separate writing office. I dream about this the way some people dream about winning the Lottery (and in New York,unfortunately, the two are pretty much linked).

Do other writers feel this way? Do you think where you live affects the way you write? Am I just being overly neurotic?

I will keep you posted if--and when--I find the (nearly) perfect place!

Until then, happy summer...


Jennifer Echols said...

I feel for you, Aimee. My best friend from high school is looking for a new apartment in NYC too, and I have been getting the play-by-play. It sounds very frustrating.

And I don't think you're being neurotic. Your surroundings really affect your concentration for writing. I had to sign off on my current house sight unseen because my husband had already moved back to Birmingham, I was stuck in Atlanta, and we needed to make an offer quickly. He sent me a photo of the screened porch where I could write, and I was sold.

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Amie, I feel your pain. I'm apartment-hunting in Boston, which isn't as competitive a market as NYC, but it's still crazy how quickly apartments go on and off the market. I feel like I've gone on fifty first dates in the last month and unfortunately, like dating, you rarely hear from people after the first meeting because there's so many people vying for their apartment.

Caroline Goode said...

I always like to be near the sound of kids playing when I'm home writing. I've lived across from an elementary school for 15 years and have lived next to a public pool and a day care center in times past.


Wendy Toliver said...

I've never lived all by myself, either, Aimee. Went from the rents' to college where I always had at least one roomie, then right out of college I got hitched and had a built-in bug-squisher.

But I think I'm now living in the most perfect place to write: the mountains. Mountains surround me, and all four seasons are equally beautiful and inspiring. Also, I fixed up my home office to help me get in the writing mood: a deep cranberry paint on the walls, fun pictures and photos on the walls, a cozy couch for guests. Now I just need a new bookshelf b/c mine is toppling over.

I think you definitely need a place where you feel comfortable and inspired and I hope that when you find that place, it'll all work out.

Aimee Friedman said...

Thanks the support, everyone! It really means a lot during this stressful time. Wendy, I think you've sufficiently convinced me that I need to leave the city and move to the mountains...I agree with you that there is nothing more inspiring than fresh, clean air and a lovely view of the sky. But until I can live that dream, I guess it's honking taxicabs and skyscrapers for me...*sigh!*

Jessica Burkhart (Jess Ashley) said...

Wow, as someone who hasn't house hunted before, it doesn't sound fun! :/

I do think location affects writers. If I get too distracted by noise or lots of activity going on when I'm in a big city, my writing suffers. I prefer a quiet suburb or out in the county. :)

Kelly McClymer said...


Good luck on the hunt -- you are absolutely right about needed a space that you can write in. I still remember, long ago in my rental days (not big city, though), moving from a dark apartment to a townhouse full of light. My heart felt open and I was free and creative in that space.