Where I Work By Suzanne Chazin

I started writing my first novel on a Dell desktop in the basement of a rented house with a baby monitor beside me and the washing machine thumping in the background. Through the years, I’ve moved computers and homes, but kept the same routine. Ikea desk unit. Tabletop computer (now a Mac) and Staples office chair…

…Until my back went into revolt after the last book. By the final edits, I resembled Quasimodo after one too many bell ringings. I knew I couldn’t do that again. I needed a change. A change of scenery. Chazin Office 1A change of work space. But most of all, a change of physical pressures on my body. So I bought a Mac laptop and took myself to my local library in Chappaqua, NY where they had two café tables in the teen section—high enough so I could write standing or sitting. I set myself up at one, not far from a headless mannequin artfully dressed in folded sheet music. My kind of muse.

The teen librarian came rushing over. “Um…the kids come in here at three,” she said. “It gets very noisy.”

“I don’t mind,” I assured her. I have a teenager at home. It gets noisy there, too.

“Yes but…they’ll disturb you.”

61fHO6xwzrLClearly, I had invaded some inner sanctum of puberty. I would have gladly moved elsewhere but there were no other café tables in the library. I took the one farthest from the sofas and computers where the teenagers were likely to assemble.

Three p.m. came.

The kids descended.

The boys talked Minecraft and sports. The girls sang the lyrics—all the lyrics—from the musical, Hamilton. I thought I wouldn’t be able to write over their chatter. But their energy, it turned out, was infectious. Like a double shot of espresso. Most of the time, I wrote over their conversations without paying them any attention. Occasionally however, I had to bite back a grin at something one of them said. Like the time a boy who couldn’t have been more than fourteen turned to a pal he was arguing politics with and said: “Of course you realize, I’m speaking as a fiscal conservative.” If I’d been sitting, I probably would have fallen off my chair.

Chazin Office 2Three months into my routine, the teen librarian approached me with the “good” news: the library had just bought a café table for the adult section. I got the hint. It was time to move on. In truth, the new table was in a better location, next to a wall of glass with plenty of natural light and no tidal wave of teenagers at 3 p.m. The library happened to move the mannequin as well so I still get to watch a whole new crop of library patrons ooh and aah over her every day. I finished my next book with no further back troubles. Still, there are days I miss overhearing the latest sports news or Broadway refrain. But it was fun while it lasted—and I’m not even speaking as a fiscal conservative.

Suzanne Chazin