Wednesday 17 April 2019

Library envy strikes again by Tracy Darnton

Once again, I've been struck by Library Envy on my travels. The last time was at the Morrab Library in Penzance, considerably smaller than my latest envy target: the New York Public Library.

Guarded by marble lions nicknamed Patience and Fortitude, it's instantly familiar from so many movies. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is a beautiful Beaux-Arts place which opened in 1911 and is stacked with gorgeous public spaces where I would love to settle down and work. I never knew I was so partial to over-the-top light fittings.

Rose Main Reading Room
So in my fantasy New York writer lifestyle, I'd live in a spacious yet characterful (cheap) apartment in Greenwich Village, grab myself a coffee and bagel en route to my selected spot in the DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room where I'd first browse the newspapers and read The New Yorker magazine before tapping out 5000 words of my own.

My spot in the periodical room

On top of literally glowing places to work, it has free events and classes (I'd pick Spanish conversation and tech support) and free exhibitions - I went round those on fifty years since Stonewall, and the poet Walt Whitman. The shop provides great bookish gifts. And as if all that isn't enough, I was pretty excited by the book train which transports books on mini rails rounds round the building. Lastly, you can visit the 'real' stuffed toy inspiration behind the Winnie-the-Pooh stories lovingly housed in the vibrant children's centre.

But I'm coming to see my library envy as just another form of procrastination. If only I had a place as beautiful as this to work, goes the logic, I'd be hitting any deadlines, I'd be producing my best work, I'd be a proper writer. Sigh. Back home to the real-life desk by the ironing basket and the demands of family.

But it's OK to have a fantasy writer life every now and then, isn't it?

Tracy Darnton is the author of The Truth About Lies which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2019.

You can follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyDarnton

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