Tracy Guzeman is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has been published in Gulf Coast, Vestal Review, and Glimmer Train. The Gravity of Birds is her first novel. She is a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. You can visit her website at: www.tracyguzeman.com.
If you’re a writer, it’s probably happened to you. That bubbling fountain of ideas you’ve carried around in your head forever, suddenly, and without warning, dries up. You stare at the page. You wash the floor, you wash your hair, you wash the dog. You drink. You stare at the page. You’ve got nothing. Well, step away from the computer. Here are five great places in the Bay Area to help you break through your writer’s block.
49 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
There are three rare book dealers housed in this building: John Windle, Antiquarian Bookseller; The Children’s Book Gallery; and Brick Row Book Shop. Just the smell of so many books in one place will lighten your mood. Books, books and more books, along with some of the most beautiful bindings you can imagine. Browse and be inspired, and remember: if all of these authors managed to overcome writer’s block, so can you.
The Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral
1100 California St
San Francisco, CA 94108
There are two labyrinths at Grace Cathedral: one inside, and one outside, just to the right of the cathedral doors. Besides the inspiring view from the top of Nob Hill, this is a marvelous place to quiet your mind. There’s something about walking in a prescribed pattern and focusing only on your breathing that helps shake the cobwebs out of your head.
The de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
If the architecture of the building itself doesn’t inspire you, the artwork inside will. Get your synapses sparking by immersing yourself in a form of art that doesn’t involve putting letters on a page. Pass up the headset, and create your own backstories as you wander through the de Young’s magnificent collection of photography, American painting, and African and Oceanic art, among others.
The International Terminal at SFO
Having trouble with your characters? There’s no place like the airport to give you some ideas. Grab an espresso and pastry at Emporio Rulli and settle in. With this mad mingling of travelers, you’re guaranteed access to a wide range of human emotions—everything from ecstatic happiness to extreme frustration, boredom, exhaustion, and confusion. To say nothing of the variety of attire.
2100 Big Basin Way
Saratoga, CA 95070
Forego the koi pond. Feeding the fish is akin to watching a Hoover vacuum demonstration up close; some of the larger koi are like torpedoes, and once they suspect you have food, they’re very attentive, in a wriggling-mass-of-fish-bodies sort of way. Opt for the bamboo garden instead, which feels a little otherworldly, especially when the towering bamboo stems tap against each other in the wind. And that’s exactly where you need to be—in another world. One of your own creation.