My house is full of distractions.
There’s a TV, equipped with thousands of channels and a box that streams content from a dozen more.
There’s a picture window, where I can see the squirrels chase birds.
There’s a fireplace that crackles to life and candles that glow on its screen.
There’s a kitchen that helps invent grand meals.
There’s a record player with a stack of vinyls that beg often to be played.
Like many writers, home isn’t the greatest place for me to spill ink.
But it’s not just getting out of my own space that sparks creativity, it’s being in the right space. And that space for me for several months has been the Sunset Marquis.
Every few Fridays, I take a beautiful flight down the coast to my second home right off the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. My ritual is to unpack, eat a piece of fruit from the basket that greets me and fire up the laptop to meet my first self-imposed deadline.
I take my shoes off, slide my feet into a pair of the plush slippers provided by the hotel and begin to write. And I write until I’ve reached my pre-determined page count, for it’s only then I’m allowed to head down to the bar. So I always make my deadline.
Bar 1200 is too classy to be called a watering hole; too intimate to be cold. The bartenders are friendly, the drinks are strong and the playlist is perfect.
It’s small, cozy, dark, safe and full of stories. Have I mentioned that I love stories?
In my visits after midnight, I’ve met aspiring actresses, former bar owners, fellow writers, rock stars, filmmakers, mystics, fashion designers and photographers. None of them shy; all of them warm. A community of creatives who all feel an unspoken kinship.
When I first read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers, years ago, I was fascinated by a story he told about the Italian people of Roseto, who ate unhealthy foods, smoked and drank, yet had remarkably less heart issues than their American counterparts. The only explanation? They had a strong sense of community.
Writing is a fairly solitary sport unless you’re a member of a boisterous writers’ room or participating in a class or workshop. Since I’m in neither situation, writing alone is my default. Until I discovered the Marquis, I didn’t realize how much I needed a sense of belonging to perfect my craft.
It’s nice that the reservation desk remembers I sometimes need a late check-in (depending on my flight’s arrival); that the bar manager knows without a doubt I’ll start with a lemon drop; that the restaurant seats me under the heaters in the wintertime since I easily get cold.
And it’s not just great service—it’s the overall vibe. The welcoming feeling when I wander into the on-site art gallery to gaze at images of my favorite bands; the chats I have about pop culture with the bell hop I consider a true friend.
The Marquis manages to have the luxuries and clientele of the most prestigious properties but lacks the pretension.
And I may not be a household name like many of the guests, or have scripted the Great American Novel (yet), but I do always feel like I fit in when I’m there.
For that, I’m eternally grateful.