Shhhhhhhhhhh…. writing venue

It was quiet.  A sacred quiet. Tranquil. The spaces were large, with gentle air flow from muffled fans running somewhere behind the marble columns and arched ceilings.  I climbed the carpeted steps to the second floor of this sanctorium and made my way to a large open area designated for microfiche, business, and periodicals.

The huge windows on the north wall over-looked MacArthur Square, which is surrounded by the Milwaukee Police Department’s downtown station, and the imposing, Neo-Classic Revival County Court house (which architect Frank Lloyd Wright called “a million dollar rock pile.”  Red brick walks surrounded the plots of bright green grass in the square, though it was sleeting/snowing out.  Inside it was toasty, however, and I found an empty table with a chair facing the window.

There were twelve long shelves of current periodicals a few feet from my desk.  I roamed up and down the aisles, it was like being in a candy store where everything is free, and I chose three I’d never read before to bring back to my table. There were computers available for public use, but I had my laptop with me.  The wi fi put me in touch with the World Wide Web quickly, so that was definitely one tick in the positive column for this writing venue.

In The Writer’s Desk by Jill Krementz, Toni Morrison talks about her writing place: “…well there’s a ritual.  This ritual comprises my preparation to enter a space that I can only call nonsecular… Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process.”  What delightful ways to describe the writing process!  I don’t know which I prefer, which best describes me.  Do I make contact?  Do I become the conduit?  Or do I simply engage in a mysterious process?  Maybe each one at different time; I will have to ponder that. And how would this writing place work for me?

In this hushed space, the occasional dropped book or scrape of chair was all the louder for the quiet surrounding it.  Those periodic noises were not distracting, however.  The library was a favorite of the homeless, too, on this un-spring-like day.  Security personnel were very tolerant of these sad people, fortunately, only asking that they not snore, and that they at least give the impression of reading, with a book propped in front of them.  Most do read, and it is interesting to see the wide range of taste distributed on the tables that have been vacated.

After I spent some time writing, I definitely needed that first cup of the morning.  It’s too bad that one couldn’t bring drinks into the library, but I certainly understood.  I walked the long hallway back to the grand staircase, passing the Art and Music Reference Room and the Humanities Reference Room (a repository of wonderful maps).  Down the stairway and out the main door to reach The Book Seller; used books for sale and a café that has decent coffee, and also serves food.

This is a very friendly space, with great prices on books and volunteers manning the cash register for sales.  I’ve purchased many books for tt here, at twenty-five cents each.  I went into the back room to pick out a few paperbacks for a homebound friend and then secured my latte and a table.  The tables were the small round, garden style variety, just big enough for my cup and computer.  I spent another pleasant hour there, before heading out to my car.

On the negative side of this wonderful venue, parking downtown is at a premium, and costs $1.50 per hour.  I also prefer to be able to drink my coffee while writing, so that includes the café, but excludes the library itself.  All in all, a great place to write, but it wouldn’t be my daily venue.  It was a lovely morning, however.

  2 comments for “Shhhhhhhhhhh…. writing venue

  1. sagegrass
    May 17, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    You’ve taken me back to my own memories of large libraries. I can remember that feeling of comfortable solitude and the smell of the old books. Oh, to be back in a large city again. People I’m around now would look at me like a deer caught in the headlights if I said, “I miss large libraries”.

    Libraries are beautiful places! I have fond memories of libraries from my childhood, including the bookmobile. I don’t know if they have bookmobiles any more…..
    I would be so excited Wednesday morning, knowing what the late afternoon held. The librarian on board knew my interests and would always have a few treats set aside for me.
    Thanks for visiting and taking the time to chat!

  2. May 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I love my library, which is new and well stocked, and yes includes the cafe. I tend to run in and out though, grab an armful of books and dash home with them. I’ve been thinking about making it more of a writing destination, now that I’ll be working from home instead of going to an office job during the week. My husband often works at home too, so I may need to find some outside “office space.”

    You described your library experience beautifully, I might add.

    You haven’t really told what you are doing, Becca. Working from home…….? Are you writing? or…….

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