I live in one of the most heavily populated, highly cultured cities in the world. They say if you can make it here (New York City) you can make it anywhere. New York City is such a great place to be when you have a dream and you know exactly where you're headed. It's also a great place to get lost in anonymity, patronize the arts, and sample the food and lifestyle of many different cultures. But one drawback to living in this place is that New York City is the city that never sleeps! One could "run this town" all night, zipping from one bar, restaurant, theater, art opening, cafe, festival, concert, and park to the next, romping around with friends and loved ones and even spending money (time and energy) that you really don't have.
When I first moved to NYC permanently, I was a hermit for about 6 months. I needed to plot and plan who and what I wanted and needed to be. I mapped out my goals, worried a little, cried a little and wrote alot. I had to leave my past behind and start anew. I decided to take the path less popular: the journey of an artist. My family kept telling me I had two choices: go to graduate school full time or get a job. That's what happens when you're raised to be an artsy, bohemian, intellectual type - you often flit around like a butterfly until you really hone in on what you want to do! So I found my passion and my purpose in writing, performing and also teaching. And once I got started, no one could tell me to stop!
But something happened midway through my new journey: I wanted to be everywhere, see everyone and do everything! During a time when I worked full-time in Manhattan, I would arrive at work pretty early, end the work day around 7pm, stop by a networking event afterward, and then perform at a poetry cafe. I may get in around 1am or 2am. And that was just during the week! The weekends for me were filled with film openings, house parties, concerts, performing at venues, some travel, and anything else that came up on the fly. I met many celebrities and notable writers during this time of my life. After 9 months straight of diving head first into the NYC social/art scene, low and behold, I got sick! Yes, I thought I was superwoman. All of the running around, networking, socializing, and performing really had my tail spinning, literally and figuratively. Although I eventually recuperated, I would repeat this free spirited, yet exhausting behavior one more time before I realized: New York City will burn you out and keep you running if you let it!
Constantly seeking outside of yourself and burning out is not a good lifestyle for a writer, or anyone for that matter. Writers typically need some tranquility to produce. Well I actually can't speak for every writer, but this writer needs peace and solitude to create. I'm not saying my surroundings have to be completely quiet at all times ( I do listen to hip hop, funk and rock music while I'm writing or exercising), but what I do know is I need more than a few moments of regular stillness and silence in order to be consistenly productive.
I love living in the "greatest city in the world," but I now take this city in doses. I don't try to be everywhere at one time. I decline invitations when I need to and I generally give myself permission to say "No" anytime I think being "busy" and running around is going to either cost me a) too much money or b) productivity in my craft. I have weekends when all I want to do is hang, and sometimes I do just that. But for the most part I strive to strike a balance, realizing I've "been there done that" and there's just nothing new under the New York City sun.