A Room of His Own
February 05 2014

A Room of His Own

New York-Competitions

Our first Standard x Paris Review writer-in-residence, Mr. Lysley Tenorio, recently checked out of room 1006 at The Standard, East Village, with a fresh stack of finished pages. The 41-year-old creative writing teacher at Saint Mary's College of California, and author of the 2012 short-story collection, "Monstress," joined us for three weeks to work on his second novel.

We're going to miss having Lysley around, and can't wait to see the novel in print. Here's what he had to say about his stay:

Room 1006 was ideal for writing, a cocoon that still opened up to the world outside. To work effectively, to stay inspired, I need to be able to tuck myself away from reality yet still have access to it, so that view was perfect, always engaging but never overwhelming, and the mix of old and new architecture provided a kind of out-of-time panorama. I loved it.

Matteo Pericoli's sketch of the view from Lysley's room, part of a series from The Paris Review on writers' views.

And working at The Standard was a residency like no other. As much as I enjoy being in a community of writers and artists, to be the sole writer-in-residence helped me focus on the work. I never felt the need (or pressure) to comment on my day's productivity, the way I sometimes do at an artist colony with 20 other writers working in the space around you. And the atmosphere of the hotel is a good reminder that the world keeps turning, and that you're in it. Most writing residencies are located away from major cities (even towns, sometimes) so one feels very removed from reality. This, of course, can be a wonderful thing, and I've benefitted from that in the past (at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, etc.). But at this particular point in the process, I wanted to be in an environment where the wheels kept turning, with the city just outside the door. I can't tell you how perfect the location of The Standard is. Those walks in the East Village were as vital to my writing process as sitting at the desk.

And the staff kept me inspired too. They were always respectful of my space, knew why I was there, and were friendly and welcoming--it's so nice to walk into a hotel and be greeted by your name every time. I especially appreciated the effort made to reach out to me, to make me feel like I was part of the hotel's community. Writing is always a solitary act -- it must be -- but the need for human interaction and camaraderie in that time is essential for me -- it energizes, rejuvenates. So I'm grateful to the people at The Standard for providing that as well.

I can't thank The Standard and the Paris Review enough for this opportunity.