Author Workspaces – Gray Basnight, FLIGHT OF THE FOX

NYC Real Estate Situation:
One bedroom on first floor in fashionable Chelsea Neighborhood.

Gray Basnight


Pros: Pet friendly, elevator building, convenient location in heart of Manhattan, close to transportation and restaurants, unusually large bath, renovated galley kitchen, exposed brick wall, modern appliances, combined living/dining, AC, gas heat, live-in superintendent.

Cons: Little sunlight, no view, restricted street parking (big risk of parking tickets), nighttime street noise (especially Friday and Saturday nights), some vertical neighbor noise (especially…oh, never mind), next door construction noise, very near Google building (lots of geeky, tattooed, half-naked Gen-Xer, Xennial, iGen, and GenZ Brooklynites meandering about).

Important Note: One of the two occupants is a writer.

Uh-oh. Now what? Everything was going fine until that last notation.

New Yorkers living in cramped quarters are accustomed to figuring out clever solutions to their space problem. We know how to seize any and all available space for the necessary accoutrements of modern life. We store impedimenta under the bed like champion Tetris players. We buy dining tables that flip into a bookcase and fold into a roll top desk. Push a button and our bed magically becomes a sofa. Sometimes our dishwasher doubles as a filing cabinet.

But none of this solves the writer’s need to possess his/her own private space where he/she may sit and play Call of Duty until the first line of the next chapter gets born in the cerebellum. Then, no matter how late in the day, the writing may finally begin. Try doing that all day at the kitchen counter while your spouse/partner/roommate perambulates as though he/she has the nerve to believe the kitchen is actually a kitchen. (Correction: do not try that.)

So what’s the solution?

Answer: the closet.

In this case, my fix is a small walk-in closet that I call my in utero office. It’s a very cozy place. It measures 3’9” x 7’4”. That’s small. But for a one-bedroom apartment in New York City, it’s a rare luxury. And not being afflicted with even the slightest trace of claustrophobia, I like it the same way that cats like cardboard boxes. For some odd reason, I enjoy cramped and cozy.

George Orwell’s press pass.

The walls are filled with shelves, and the shelves, naturally, are filled not only with books but also with all the usual writerly cards, notes, photos, reminders, and objets d’art that hold value to no one but me. Among the most prized: my cap collection, photos of my dogs, a photo of the ancient Egyptian obelisk that stands today in Central Park, and a copy of George Orwell’s press pass. Squeeze in the PC, printer, and WiFi and there’s just enough room left for the writer.

To work at my butcher block desk, I must enter backwards, sit, push back on the chair, spin, withdraw the counter-balanced keyboard tray, tuck my knees under the keyboard tray, and—voilà: my own private writing space.

Best of all—neither I nor my spouse is a pack rat, so we have no great need for it to serve its intended purpose as an actual closet. Additionally, it was the principal reason we bought this one-bedroom co-op years ago when moving up from a beloved rental in Greenwich Village.